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19.00 hrs.

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MR. DPEUTY-SPEAKER: Let the Quorum bell be rung--

Now, there is quorum. Hon. Member Shri Amar Roy Pradhan may continue.

SHRI AMAR ROY PRADHAN (COOCHBEHAR): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I associate myself with the views that have been expressed by Shri Rupchand Pal and others of the Left Front and also of Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Sir, I rise to oppose this Bill vehemently. I would like to raise my voice as high as possible against this Bill because of the fact that this is a Bill which is not only anti-people and anti-labour but is also an anti-national Bill.

The two lakh employees of the LIC and GIC have done a lot and their contributions have been mentioned here by so many hon. Members from both the sides. The LIC and the GIC are profit-making companies. According to my knowledge, I am not an economist, and according to the data available with me, let us try to look at the performances of the LIC and the GIC. In 1998, there was a growth of 13.3 per cent in respect of new policies; growth on first premium was 22.55 per cent; growth on total premium income was 22.66 per cent. Total income during the last fourteen years, that is from 1984 to 1998, is Rs. 36,352.59 crore. Total assets is to the tune of Rs. 1,32,764 crore. They also have contributed a lot towards the social security net.

There are a lot of companies in India which are not profit-making. But these two companies, namely, the LIC and the GIC, are performing very well. I do not the reason as to why these two companies would have to be privatised and would also require foreign investment.

One major criticism that has been levelled against the LIC and the GIC is that it has not spread according to the population and the GDP. Mr. Finance Minister you would be knowing better as to what is meant by GDP? GDP is the total growth of the economy. GDP does not mean as to how much money has been distributed. What is the position of our country at this moment?

About fifty per cent of total population of India lives below the poverty line. Is it not a fact that about forty per cent of total population of the country lives in thatched houses? Is it not a fact that in our country a great number of people are half-fed, ill-clad and without shelter? After allowing for this fact, you will find that the data of insurance coverage in foreign countries like USA and UK is not much more than that done by LIC and GIC in India. In a country like ours, who will go in for insurance cover? Will those who are living in thatched houses go in for insurance cover? Will they go to LIC and GIC and buy insurance policies? Only ten per cent of population in the country can afford insurance and they have taken insurance cover. When you consider the figure of insurance coverage by LIC and GIC in India for the year 1998 in the light of these facts, you will find that it is actually much more than what it is shown to be. In these circumstances, why should the Government go in for this measure?

Sir, my `hats off' to insurance employees who had submitted a detailed memorandum to the Joint Committee of Parliament. That memorandum says:

"In such a situation what will be happening is, the savings of our economy channelled through insurance companies would be taken out of the country in diverse ways without India being in a position to have a share in the foreign insurance market and savings and capital in their economies. This is what has happened in regard to all developing countries. ... Insurance markets in foreign countries, particularly in advanced and industrialised countries are very tightly regulated and are closed markets. There is no scope for registration of Indian companies in USA. For example, only three per cent of total insurance premium collected in USA was controlled by non-US companies in the year 1990. In case of France it is five per cent; in UK it is five per cent; and in Japan it is three per cent."

If that is the position in other countries, India is better of now than it would be after allowing foreign participation. The memorandum further says:

"There is an interesting study of the RBI as published in The Hindu dated 11th November, 1998, where it is mentioned that in the process of foreign collaboration more money has flowed out of the country than received, causing apart from balance of payments problems, several other destabilising effects."

In India, a Reserve Bank study on foreign collaborations reveals that the operations of the 458 survey firms with foreign share-holding resulted in a net drain of foreign exchange over Rs.15 billion over a five year period. If it is a fact that we have lost this heavily, why is the Government still insisting on inviting foreign private companies into this sector? We know that in the insurance sector there are some private companies, this way or that way, which are having some scope for insurance. What is the fate of those companies? They have been paid their due share.

Sir, the report of the Reserve Bank of India is something which we should take note of. They said that whenever we invited foreign companies into our country our units became losing concerns in that particular sector. This should be taken note of.

Dr. Nitish Sengupta talked of what happened in China. China has a controlled economy.

Can you tell me which are those foreign countries which have allowed LIC and GIC to do insurance business in their countries? None. Can you be guided by them? Never. I know the difficulties that you are facing today. Can you guide the WTO? No. It is because India's position is not so much that you can guide all the foreign companies in India. This is the position. China can direct the Italian and US firms that they can guide only in hotel industry. They have directed the USA to just invest money only in hotel sector. But here in India can you dictate the foreigners in such a manner as has been done in China? Can you direct the multinationals in that manner? You cannot do at this present moment because India is a very poor country. Why are you having so much craze about foreign companies? You speak about the swadeshi but what have you done about swadeshi? When I travel in trains, I saw that only dahi was in the earthen pot and then I felt "Yes. The Vajpayee Government have done something for keeping dahi in earthen pot". We have not been able to keep up the culture of swadeshi. It is not possible at this moment because India is not a new member of the WTO.

How much export have you done? It is simply 0.9. If it is so, then our position is very very weak and in that respect at this fag end of this debate, through you I have to appeal to the Ministry, to the Finance Minister and others that in the interests of the two lakh people of our country, those who are working in the LIC and GIC and for the interest of the country and of the people, you please do not take up this Bill. You please withdraw this Bill. That is my request to you because this Bill will not do good work. It will give signals to the other organisations which are making profit, like the LIC and the GIC. If you put 26 per cent shares to these companies and if you put the private parties here, if you put the foreigners here, if you put the multinationals here, then the signal will go to the other organisations. Even in India till today there are some organisations which make profit just like the GIC and LIC and then the employees of those companies will feel shaky and the production will be less. If it is so, we should not handle those profit making bodies in such a manner through privatisation.

So, my appeal to you is to please withdraw this Bill even at this stage.

1915 hrs.

DR. JAYANT RONGPI (AUTONOMOUS DISTRICT--ASSAM): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to register my total opposition to the IRA Bill. I have been listening to the debate and specially listening to the Treasury benches and to the Congress who are engaged in friendly match that has been going on.

The entire debate has been limited to the Congress saying that they are placing some amendments and requesting that they be considered and the ruling party saying that it was basically a Congress commitment and that the Chairman of the Standing Committee belonged to that Party. The entire gamut of the debate was restricted to that.

I feel that the crux or the essence of this Bill is far more deeper and far more consequential to our national life than what both the major political formations have put forward. More than 1.5 crore people of India have signed a memorandum asking the hon. Minister of Finance and the Government to reconsider the Bill. Here is a Government, which, from the very first day has been speaking about consensus. They are not bringing in the Bill to provide for reservation to women saying that there is no consensus. They are not bringing in the Statehood Bills for three new States saying that consensus has to be evolved. In the case of the present Bill, there is no consensus at all. There has been no consensus not only in Parliament but lakhs of workers have openly registered their resentment in the street. There is no consensus. Still, they are pushing through this Bill because they have the majority and maybe they are assured of support from the major Opposition Party. It is evident from this that their main intention is to go by the diktats of the World Trade Organization.

I was a Member of this House when the entire process of liberalization started by the Congress in 1991. The then Minister of Finance used to say that initially there might be some difficulty but after two years the results of globalization and liberalization would trickle down to the village level. He used to say this giving out much data and many explanations. He painted a very rosy picture that the effect of globalization, the effect of more funds coming into India would solve unemployment, that the Government could spare more funds for developmental work. What is the reality today? Now, it is the fag end of the century. Eight years have already passed after the process of liberalization started. Has the benefit of globalization trickled down to the village level? Could the Government spare more funds? They can say on paper that so much funds have gone to the social sector or villages. Is it a fact? Is it not a fact that half the population of Orissa is devastated by the cyclone? We have the Government of Orissa saying that they do not have the money to tackle the problem. The Government of India is also saying that they are facing problems.

For the North-East, many packages have been declared by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance but the money has not gone there. So, in spite of the theories that globalization will strengthen the economy nothing has been done as they had promised. I still remember how again and again the advocates of the New Economic Policy have been pointing towards Thailand and Phillipines. If you go through the records of the proceedings of those years, you will find that they have been convincing us that Thailand has gone ahead of us and Phillipines has gone ahead of us because of globalization.

But these days, they do not give the example of Thailand and Philippines because the result was very much obvious. Their entire economy, the very backbone of the economies of Thailand and Philippines, the very essence of self-reliance which they had earlier to the new economic policy had been smashed due to the process of globalization.

This particular Bill, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, is a part of a bigger design to economically destabilize India and to economically smash whatever self-reliance the people of India had been trying to build up. So, it is a bigger conspiracy to make us weak economically so that we can succumb to the pressures of the multinationals and we can succumb to the global players especially the United States of America and other super powers.

Therefore, this Bill is not only anti-people and it not only involves LIC and GIC, if you go deeper into this Bill, you can also see that in the larger interest, if I am permitted to say, it is anti-national.

So, I register my strongest protest. If I had more Members in my party, I would have definitely not restricted myself only to giving this speech, I would have stalled the proceedings so that this Bill could not have been introduced. But maybe luckily for them and unfortunately for me I did not have the requisite Members to stall the proceedings.

With these words, I conclude my speech.

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