President signs ordinances on Insurance and Coal

New Delhi, Dec 26: Paving way for the reforms in major sectors, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday signed the ordinances approved by the Union Cabinet on raising FDI in insurance and facilitating e-auction of coal blocks.

The cabinet on Wednesday had approved the ordinances for coal blocks and insurance after the legislations could not be presented in both the Houses of Parliament during the winter session, which was disrupted by the opposition members over several issues including religious conversions.

In order to get Parliamentary approval for two crucial reforms of legislation, the government chose the ordinance route to raise the FDI in insurance and facilitate coal block auctions.

The Cabinet has approved promulgation of an Ordinance to hike Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the insurance sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent.

The Insurance Bill, which has been pending since 2008 in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to increase the composite foreign investment limit in insurance companies to 49 per cent from current level of 26 per cent. The legislation could not be passed in the Parliament session and the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die on Tuesday.

The Cabinet approved re-promulgation of an Ordinance to facilitate e-auction of coal blocks for private companies for captive use and allot mines directly to state and central PSUs.

The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill that was moved to replace an ordinance issued earlier was passed by the Lok Sabha in the winter session but it could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha.

The government proposed the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014, in October to facilitate coal block auctions after the Supreme Court cancelled 204 coal blocks in September. The bill provides for the allocation of coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over land and mine infrastructure, together with mining leases, to successful bidders and allottees through a transparent bidding process.

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