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SHRI RUPCHAND PAL (HOOGLY): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the Bill. But, at the very outset, I would like to make my party's position clear on one thing that as such we are not opposed to reforms. But in whose interest are reforms made? We oppose the quality and nature of reforms, the direction of reforms and, of course, taking into account the obtaining reality, the sequencing and the pacing of reforms. There is no consensus on the nature and quality of reforms undertaken in India.

I am just making a reference to the B.J.P. Manifesto in 1998.

They say :

"It said, it was liberalising the economy and actually gave itself more opportunities for corruption."

They are speaking about Congress. The BJP has been describing the Congress liberalisation since 1991 as phony liberalisation. I am not reading extensively, but there are many more things in this. At one place they say:

" The last six years" - they are saying this in 1998 - "when the much touted reform has been under way, have been years of extreme difficulty for the common man. The wholesale price index of foodgrains has gone up, the availability of cereals for the common people has come down and there is an uneven playing field for the Indian industry. They assured that the BJP will be guided by the Swadeshi or economic nationalism."

About FDI, they are saying - and which is their argument right now - and I am reading:

"Even after the so-called reforms" - please note my Congress friends - "the share of FDI in national investment is less than two per cent, that is, out of the total national investment of about Rs.12,30,000 crore, FDI amounted to only Rs.18,500 crore during the years from 1991 to 1996." It is clear that foreign capital will be only of little value to the national economy, though crucial to some sectors like infrastructure."

Then they said:

"The BJP will clearly define the contours and schedule of the liberalisation. The procedural reforms like rectification of corporate law, tax law and other commercial laws will be separated from policy formulations, like the policy on Insurance and Pension Fund."

This they said in 1998. Then came the NDA. What have they said? They said that they are setting for a consensus on a common cause. And to what end? To Swadeshi thrust. India shall be built by Indians...(Interruptions).

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Dr. Sengupta, you are not expected to be talking to the officers in the Gallery like that.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : At the same time, they say that the country cannot look at others for employment, for technology and all these things. Then they assure they will not undermine but strengthen the national economy, the indigenous industry base and financial and service sectors. This is the assurance given by the NDA. Is there any consensus within the BJP? I am coming to that one by one. When Shrimati Sushma Swaraj was the Chairman of the Petitions Committee of the other House, what had the Committee to say? The Petitions Committee unanimously, I repeat, unanimously recommended. But the fifteenth report of the Standing Committee was not unanimous. We had submitted our notes of dissent. I am sorry to mention that if you go through the note of dissent you shall find how large number of people belong to different walks of life were denied the opportunity to depose before the Committee, I have already mentioned that more than 1.5 crore people have signed against this move to open up the insurance industry. Who are they? They are M.Ps. belonging to this side and that side also. Legislators, jurists of national and international stature, economists, social scientists, prominent journalists, a large number of people had also offered to depose before the Standing Committee.

I am sorry to mention that I had to write that the Standing Committee was failing to perform its role. Such important people like bureaucrats, Members of the Planning Commission, former Members of the Planning Commission were deprived to depose before the Standing Committee and only the corporate friends were taken to give it biased views.

You are not accepting your own leader's unanimous report and you are depending on the report of the Standing Committee whose chairman was from the Congress Party, who had ignored representations of important people who wanted to depose before the Standing Committee. What is the report given by Sushma Swaraj Committee? It says :

"The Committee strongly feels that the time has not come for departing from the earlier nationalisation objectives of the insurance sector and would recommend continuing with the existing policy framework along with improving the systems of higher efficiency".

It strongly felt that it should not be done.

What, our good friend Shri George Fernandes, had to say? ...(Interruptons) Yes, I have everything with me. One by one, I will take them up. I find that the majority is against it. The majority of this House is against it. I shall mention them one by one as to who are the people who opposed it not long back but in 1997 or 1998 but even some people have come out in 1999 against this opening up and they are now changing their stances. Shri George Fernandes opposed to 26 per cent foreign equity.

In India with 8 per cent of stake the largest Indian company can be controlled by someone. Shri Swaraj Paul, who is a Lord now, had come to India earlier in relation to the take-over bid of Escorts. When he was going back he made a public statement. He asked : "Is there any private company in India at all?" He was giving a list of private Indian companies which, totalling among them, have invested - at that point of time - Rs.264 crore only and were controlling Rs. 27,000 crore of money belonging to L.I.C.I, G.I.C.I., U.T.I. and other nationalised financial institutions.

You are now speaking of 26 per cent of equity in the Bill. Let us see what Shri George Fernandes has to say with regard to foreign equity :

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It is on record. I am reading from the proceedings of the other House. Sir, please listen.

I had an opportunity to meet Members of Parliament in England, and some of the Congressmen have been asking me.... Members of Parliament were there. I met them and discussed with them. Congressmen from the United States were also there. We had a discussion there and during the course of the discussion they asked me whether our Government was going to privatise the insurance sector. I told them that the pros and cons of it would be looked into by the Government and no decision was taken. They were in such a hurry that one Member of Parliament told me - I do not want to name the Member - that he does not want to contest elections but would like to come and invest in India when we open up the insurance sector in India. That is the kind of anxiety which the Western countries are showing."

Sir, Mr. Frank Wisner, who was the U.S. Ambassador in India is now the Chairman of Indo-U.S. Business Council.

He said that insurance was their flagship and if we did not allow their flagship, why should the fleet like FDI come to India? I can go on quoting a number of things. Before you open up insurance, there are people who are already waiting. I can read out the names of a number of foreign insurance companies that are already waiting. They have entered into contracts, poaching has started, and more than 246--I think, it has crossed that number--of our very efficient professionals have been taken away to lucrative posts and other financial attractions. Insurance involves national savings. Our own professionals, our own experts will be taken by foreign companies and our own people will be deprived of the same national savings now being used for nation building.

When the BJP was in opposition, they moved an amendment opposing the opening up of insurance sector for the foreign insurance companies also. I am referring to Shri Rajesh Pilot. He was waxing eloquent. Let us not ignore their view points. I quote from his previous speech:

"Social sector is very important. Rupees one lakh crore are going to the social sector. That safeguard is not there in the Bill. So, if you propose for a Standing Committee, we can give our view about that"

SHRI RAJESH PILOT : I am maintaining that.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : Now, he has given a condition, but he has not yet suggested that it should not only be analysed and studied by Parliament but the expert views should also be taken into consideration. It is not concrete. It is very vague.

I just refer to one of the Members of the Congress Party who spoke in the other House. ....(Interruptions) I shall come to the Manifesto of Congress Party and its interpretation by their important leaders later. Shri Vayalar Ravi, a Congress MP in the other House, had written one article and I have got that article with me. As Congressman, he had said: "We have no right to open up". He has gone to the extent of demanding conscience vote. I am also appealing to the conscience of this House because if I go on quoting, we shall find that there have been very serious reservations at some point of time or other. In 1993, when Shri T.N. Chaturvedi wanted to know why one more Committee had been set up, Dr. Manmohan Singh said that the Indian insurance companies were doing as well as the foreign companies. The Minister read out the Terms of Reference of the Committee to assure the Members that the question of foreign companies was not being studied and the aim was only to review the working of LIC and GIC. What has the Congress to say in its manifesto? It is mentioned at page 50 of their Manifesto.

This was mentioned under the chapter "infrastructure". I may not be very intelligent, but I have a little bit of intelligence. The point is that they have referred to LICI and GICI in relation to infrastructure. It says:

"The rapid expansion of the infrastructure that India desperately needs requires the mobilisation of long-term finances. The Insurance industry will be restructured to enhance the flow of long-term funds to infrastructure development. LICI and GICI will be strengthened, corporatised and professionalised to equip them to deal with competition. Private companies, with majority equity to Indians, will be allowed in all insurance and pension businesses ...."

SHRI RAJESH PILOT : You have quoted our Manifesto. What is wrong with our Manifesto?

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : I shall come to that later. What does the World Investment Report say?

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : You may refer to Shrimati Renuka Chowdhury also. She opposed the privatisation and the opening up of the insurance sector.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : I shall do that.

SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY (KHAMMAM): I have the courage of my conviction to stand today in this House and say that we are sensitive and responsive to the changes that a society dictates that you cannot view insurance in isolation, that we must see it in the comprehensive vision which takes India forward.

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : Within one year, you could change your vision!

SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY (KHAMMAM): That is the accelerated process in which the country moves. That is the way the world moves.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: What is going on in the House, Shri Acharia?

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : One year before, you opposed it, and within one year, you could change yourself!

SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY : The nation has changed, the world has changed, but of course the Communists would not be aware of that. It is a little difficult for them to catch up with the times.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : She has provked me to make a reference to the very recent statement of the former Prime Minister, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, who initiated the reforms in the country.

SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY : What about him? Please refer to the present Prime Minister also and to what he has said.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Pal, you have taken 17 minutes.

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : He just started his speech.

SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY : Please look at the time. That is how they estimate the time.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : They are feeling uneasy; let them not feel uneasy. I am only appealing to their conscience.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Rupchand Pal, it is Shri Acharia who is interrupting you and not any one of us.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : Now, I refer to the World Investment Report. In 1998, out of US 642 billion dollars of FDIs, 39 per cent higher than in 1997. Bulk of the FDIs were used for mergers and acquisitions only. The World Investment Report says that the FDI inflows to developing countries have declined to the tune of US 166 billion dollars. India has lost a large amount of foreign direct investment inflow during this period. FDI has not gone up, and it will not go up.

On the other hand, how did the LICI serve the nation? During the Sixth Plan, it was Rs. 12,000 crore; in the Seventh Plan, it was Rs. 25,000 crore; in the Eighth Plan, it was Rs. 56,000 crore, and in the first two years of the Ninth Plan, it was Rs. 43,000 crore. LICI alone can provide Rs. 1,30,000 crore for investment during the Ninth Plan. Who can do it? Will any foreign company do it? GICI can provide no less than Rs. 30,000 crore, and they are giving increasing dividends to the Government. During 1997-98, the dividend given by LICI was Rs. 198.35 crore.

The dividend for the year 1998-99 was Rs. 235.70 crore. The Government is talking about the corporate tax. I would like to give some figures here. It was published last week that the Multinational companies are not paying income tax. The Grindlays Bank is not paying Rs. 700 crore in spite of the directives given by the Reserve Bank of India. They are looting Indian money. But these Indian companies have paid corporate tax to the tune of Rs. 563.06 crore. In the year 1998-99, they have paid corporate tax to the tune of Rs. 726.96. What was the Government equity in 1956? It was only rupees five crore for the LIC. The Government equity for GIC in 1971 was Rs. 21.5 crore. Not a single paise has been added by the Government since then.