SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: Sir, I have absolutely no problem in accepting the suggestion of Shri Madhavrao Scindia in saying that we will certainly examine it. But I would say that as the Act stands, at present, there is absolutely no scope for any confusion. We are clear about the nature...(Interruptions).
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : Open hospitality. This will be hidden hospitality. Foreign contribution is for hospitality. (Interruptions).
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: Therefore, Sir, as I was saying, there should be absolutely no apprehension on the part of the Members of this august House in regard to the basic objectives of this Act, in regard to its spread, in regard to the kind of situation which will develop as a result of this Act coming into force. I can only assure the Members that the cake will become bigger,
that insurance business will expand and we will have far larger sums of money from within the country for investment. Now, this is an issue on which I would like to take a little bit time of this House.
We permit foreign investment in the infrastructure sector. Now, all of us are aware that infrastructure sector fund investments are largely investments from the insurance companies and the pension funds. These are long-term funds and that is why they are invested in areas which have a larger and longer gestation period. We are openly welcoming investment in infrastructure, even the CPI(M), I am quite sure, as my friends from the Left, have no objection to this.
Shri P.R. Dasmunsi yesterday was referring to the overbridge in Calcutta- the Baakreshwar power plant.
Shri Somnath Chatterjee had very correctly gone abroad on behalf of the West Bengal IDC in order to invite foreign capital. So has the Chief Minister of West Bengal, as Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi mentioned. Now they are moving with the time and I welcome it. Just as Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi welcomes it, I also welcome it. We have to get foreign investment in certain sectors and infrastructure is the most important. If we want to achieve a growth rate of eight per cent or nine per cent in this country in order to tackle the problem of poverty and unemployment, then it is absolutely essential that we invest more funds, more money in infrastructure sector. Now, what is it that we are trying to do through this amendment of the legislation? What we are trying to do is to garner our own resources. Our own resources can go up manifold. There are estimates that the total insurance funds will rise by 300 per cent, 400 per cent in the next few years and there will be more money available from within the country for investment in infrastructure. Therefore, in order not to depend so much on foreign funds, it is important that we develop this sector. So, these are the intentions of the Government, these are the objectives of the legislation with which we have come before this House. As I said, it was examined by the Standing Committee on Finance in the Twelfth Lok Sabha and I was saying it when I was moving this Bill for consideration that this perhaps would be an exceptional situation where the Government thought it fit to accept all the recommendations of the Standing Committee. We have accepted all their suggestions and incorporated them in the revised Bill. If ever there was a tribute to the Standing Committee system in Parliament, it is this legislation.
My hon. friends from the Congress party have moved a number of amendments. They have made a number of suggestions. I have circulated in the House the amendments that we propose to move officially from the Government side in this regard and incorporate them in the Bill.
SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : These have not been circulated, Sir.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: These are being circulated.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : The process has not started.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: These are being circulated.
SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN (CHIRAYINKIL): Sir, there is a tradition of the House...(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order please. It is being circulated. It is getting ready.
SHRI PRAKASH PARANJPE (THANE): How can we study them and how can we express our views if we are receiving them now only? At least we should get some time to study the amendments that the Government is suggesting.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please do not interrupt the Minister.
SHRI PRAKASH PARANJPE : This is not interruption, Sir, but this is not the way.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: Sir, as I was saying, because the objectives were the same, it was with the same objectives that we had drafted this legislation and, therefore, we found absolutely no problem...(Interruptions)
SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN : Sir, as per the rules, we are entitled to get them 48 hours before. You may go ahead without that, that is another matter.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : There will be too much of foreign money coming, baba.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Radhkrishnan, I know you are always rules-bound. You are a former Speaker of Kerala, I know that. But there are some exemptions also.
SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN : Exemptions not at the cost of the Members' right.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : The Chair can allow everything.
SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN : The Chair can allow even without discussion also.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: No, that cannot be allowed by the Chair, Shri Radhakrishnan.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, as I was saying, because there is no difference of opinion in regard to the objectives, in regard to the purposes that we want this Bill to serve, therefore, responding to the sentiments expressed in this House by some of the Members, specially from the Congress Party, the Government felt absolutely no difficulty in accepting some of their suggestions and I would like to say that some of those amendments ...
SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV (SILCHAR): When you are accepting our proposals, why do you not accept them as our proposals? Why are you bucking in saying they are your proposals. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : It is because you have not given me time to finish what I wanted to say. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV : You be gracious. When you are gracious, be very large-hearted.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : Shri Sontosh Mohan Dev, he is coming to that.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Therefore, Sir, those amendments, put in the proper legal language and in the proper place in the Bill, are being moved and will be moved by me as official amendments when we come to those Clauses. But I would like to make one last point here before I am done with the reply to this debate.
And that is that, in Government, in Opposition, we all have our roles and responsibilities. One point which I would like to make with all the humility at my command is that whether we are here or there or from whichever section of the House we are sitting in, I think we should not start levelling unfounded charges at each other. ...(Interruptions) That is what denigrates the entire functioning of this House and democracy.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : It should be on all sides. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : I am not referring to you. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI A.C. JOS (TRICHUR): The wisdom has dawned upon you quite late. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI RUPCHAND PAL (HOOGLY): Sir, he has assured about level-playing field. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Shri Rupchand Pal, did I interrupt you even once? You said the harshest things against me. But I never interrupted you.
SHRI A.C. JOS : Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, ...
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : Shri Jos, he is not yielding to you.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Sir, the entire political class has suffered as a result of this. I am saying this with all the sense of responsibility. We level unfounded allegations. I heard a word here. ...(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Rupchand Pal, please do not interrupt.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Sir, one of the hon. Members of this House called me a criminal for having brought this legislation. ...(Interruptions) I am expressing my anguish and pain at that. Just because I have brought this legislation, do I become a criminal? ...(Interruptions)
SHRI MANI SHANKAR AIYAR (MAYILADUTURAI): Then, why are you describing Shri Rajiv Gandhi as criminally accused? ...(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, please do not interrupt.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, do you have a personal score to settle with me? ...(Interruptions)
SHRI RAJIV PRATAP RUDY (CHHAPRA): Sir, everytime he is bringing in the name of Rajiv Gandhi. ...(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : Shri Rudy, please do not interrupt.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Sir, words have been bandied around saying that this legislation is anti-national. I am expressing my anguish and pain at that. Is it anti-national? Just because we are sitting in the Treasury Benches, it does not mean that we are sacrificing all our interests. It has been said that we have brought forward this legislation under some pressure.
SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA (BANKURA): Yes, it is a fact. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA : Sir, let me hasten to add that it is absolutely unfounded. We are not acting under any pressure. This is a decision which we have taken according to our own volition, according to our own will. There is no pressure whatsoever. I am telling you that there is no pressure. The Government of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji is under no pressure from within or from outside. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN : It goes against the interest of the State.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: It does not go against the interest of the State. That is what I am challenging. ....(Interruptions) The problem is that some people and some parties have refused to move with the time. They have refused to grow up. This is the problem. They have refused to grow up mentally. They have refused to grow up intellectually. That is why, this problem is there. ....(Interruptions)
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA (GUNA): Have you grown up intellectually with time? Have you grown up? ....(Interruptions)
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: Yes, I have. ....(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Brar, please take your seat.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: He has got a clarification.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: Who?
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Ramdas Athawale.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: I will give him a chance. Let me complete first and then, he can seek a clarification.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Ramdas, you will get a chance.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: Sir, we all may have differences of opinion, we all may have our own ideologies. We all went to the people with our respective programmes and ideologies. This is what democracy is all about. Then, our friends here ....(Interruptions)
SHRI SAMAR CHOUDHURY (TRIPURA WEST): How are you available in all the Ministries of the Government? ....(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: This interruption is welcome.
SHRI YASHWANT SINHA: The point I was making is that this Bill is in national interest and this Bill is timely. India cannot enter the 21st Century with the mindset of the 16th Century. We have to have a modern, progressive, technological India. We have to promote the growth of India in that direction. Therefore, it is essential that this Bill is passed by this House.
I would appeal to the Members, who have opposed this Bill and suggested to me that I should withdraw the Bill, that they should withdraw their objections because the Bill is in the best national interest. Therefore, they should withdraw their objections. If they do not, then I would like to tell my friends sitting here from the Left Parties, what Trotsky had said long ago, that it has happened to them in many other countries of the world and it will happen to them even in India. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, they will go where they belong to, to the dust-heap of history.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : Sir, may I seek a clarification?
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Yes.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Radhakrishnan, I have given the floor to him.
SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN : How can he say that we will go to the dust-heap of history? ....(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Radhakrishnan, please take your seat.
SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : They will be thrown to dustbin. ....(Interruptions)
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : Can I seek a clarification now?
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Yes. You can seek a clarification now.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Hon. Members can seek clarifications one by one.
I have one more clarification from Shri Ramdas Athawale.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : Will the hon. Minister show the courtesy of listening to what I am saying?
We have been hearing of huge investments coming into this sector primarily through Indian companies and also through the equity participation to the extent of 26 per cent by foreign companies. Has any exercise been made in this regard or can the Finance Minister tell this House how much investment he is expecting? Now, companies with Rs. 100 crore equity will be formed for the business of insurance.
The foreign participation will be to the extent of 26 per cent. Now, how many companies with foreign participation are you expecting? How many hundreds and thousands of crores of foreign money are going to come through this 26 per cent participation?
With regard to the foreign banks, we know that they are operating here for many years. Their minimum deposit money is such that ordinary Indians cannot keep any accounts or maintain any accounts in these foreign banks. What is the assurance and the provision that you have made in the Bill where these insurance companies with foreign participation will look after primarily the rural areas and the vulnerable sections of the community for whom you are saying so many things? What is the assurance that these companies will not look after the big businesses alone in this country? What is the assurance for widening the scope of health insurance and crop insurance through these foreign companies with foreign participation?
SHRI RAJESH PILOT (DAUSA): That is why, this amendment has been brought.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (BOLPUR): Your amendment is the vaguest possible, Shri Rajesh Pilot. How do you ensure it? I am very sorry to say that you have brought amendments which are only precatory . It means good wishes and nothing else.
SHRI RAJESH PILOT : They will ensure it.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : You are believing them to ensure this. Let him answer. Why are you trying to answer for him? How much money are you expecting and how many companies are going to come?
SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI (RAIGANJ): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, through you, I would like to say that the hon. Finance Minister has given a firm commitment on the floor of the House that GIC and LIC will not be diluted in any form, and that none of their shares will be disinvested in any form. Therefore, to maintain the structure, I will request the hon. Finance Minister, after this Bill is passed, to bring a further guarantee clause, if possible, within the ambit of the Schedule to ensure the growth and expansion of GIC and LIC, as well as to extend their capital base. There is logic in what Shri Somnath Chatterjee said. LIC and GIC, with a capital base of Rs. 5 crore and Rs. 21.5 crore respectively, might look sick at the end of the day. Therefore, their capital base should be expanded. I gave the information in my speech yesterday. Unless their capital base is further expanded, making it as a giant company, it will not be possible for them to compete with other players in the level playing field.
These are the two aspects, and the hon. Minister has given a commitment in the House to honour them by bringing appropriate amendments to the clauses of this Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Bill or the Insurance Act, which he proposes to bring later on.
SHRI RUPCHAND PAL (HOOGLY): May I seek clarification on three specific points from the hon. Minister?
Sir, first, the hon. Finance Minister has assured about a level playing field. But how is he ready to remove the apprehension that undercutting in a big way would be resorted to by the foreign companies to ultimately weaken the LICI and GICI leading finally to their destruction?
Second, he has said that he does not agree with my views on technology. I had said that no high technology is involved. May I know from the hon. Minister as to how many of our professionals, high-tech professionals, in the insurance industry have already been lured away? To my knowledge, it is more than 250. I am just adding to it. I have been told by a very high official of the top management of these companies that he had been offered rupees two crore if he would join a foreign insurance company.
Third, how could he stop this poaching which has already taken place? More than 250, if not more, of our very top professionals, excellent global standard professionals, have been taken away.