The Telegraph
Saturday , December 15 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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PC readies next round of reforms

New Delhi, Dec. 14: The government is warming up for another phase of reforms, which will include implementing direct cash transfer of subsidy, creating a coal regulator, pushing through pension and insurance bills and giving out new banking licences.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram today hinted at speeding up the reform process without specifying the steps. “The government has been making every effort to turn the economy around and create a more investor-friendly climate,” he said.

“In the next round, we will set up a coal sector regulator and work towards bringing in the goods and services tax, besides implementing the direct cash transfer scheme, which will transfer select subsidies directly to the accounts of beneficiaries,” officials said.

Chidambaram highlighted the lacklustre growth numbers and stressed the need for policy drivers. “Since the first quarter of 2011-12, when the GDP grew at 8 per cent, there has been a decline in the growth rate in every successive quarter,” he said. In the last two quarters, the economy grew 5.5 per cent and 5.3 per cent, respectively.

Though the three key economic legislations — banking, insurance and pension bills — are now stuck in parliamentary logjam, North Block officials hope the ruling Congress party will be able to find a solution in talks with its allies and the Opposition.

The BJP has said it will continue to block the banking bill till the government drops a controversial clause allowing banks to trade in commodity futures. The principal Opposition party is also against the proposal to hike FDI in insurance to 49 per cent.

If the government wishes to ram through the measures, it will need the help of the BSP and the SP as the Left and Trinamul Congress remain opposed to all reform measures.

The task of bringing the two UP-based parties around has been made difficult by the spat between the two over reservation in the promotion bill, which seeks to ensure quotas for SC/ST officials.

Officials said the government would either require party floor managers to get the required number in both the Houses to push through the bills or would have to strike a compromise.