Nation
Coal block allocation issue stalls Parliament for tenth day

As just three days remained for the Monsoon Session to conclude, there was little hope of normalcy returning with stalemate persisting in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the wake of the CAG report

 
New Delhi: With the logjam over coal block allocations refusing to die down, Parliament was paralysed for the tenth day today as BJP remained unrelenting on its demand for resignation of prime minister Manmohan Singh, reports PTI.
 
As just three days remained for the Monsoon Session to conclude, there was little hope of normalcy returning with stalemate persisting in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the wake of the CAG report.
 
Even as the Rajya Sabha continued to witness strong protest by the BJP over coal issue, the government managed to obtain Parliament’s nod to a key legislation seeking to create six AIIMS-like premier medical institutes across the country.
 
The passing of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2012, in the Rajya Sabha now paves the way for creation of six AIIMS-like institutes in Patna, Bhopal, Raipur, Bhubaneshwar, Jodhpur and Rishikesh. The Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill.
 
After three adjournments earlier in the day, when the Upper House met at 4 pm, health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad hurriedly moved the Bill, which was passed by voice vote amid uproar.
 
As the BJP continued to raise slogans over coal issue, Kurien adjourned the House immediately after passage of the Bill.
 
Soon after the two Houses met for the day, they were adjourned till noon after opposition triggered ruckus on the issue. Members of the DMK AIADMK, CPI and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) were in the well raising the Sri Lanka issue.
 
DMK members were opposing the training of Sri Lankan armed forces at an airbase in India, while AIADMK and VCK members were protesting the planned visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Madhya Pradesh.
 
When the Lok Sabha reassembled at noon, the only work transacted was the passage of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, Bill 2012 without discussion by a voice vote amidst din.
 
While BJP members continued slogan-shouting in the well, PC Chacko, who was in the chair, ordered laying of papers.
 
After the papers were laid, minister of state for health S Gandhiselvan moved the NIMHANS Bill for consideration and passage. It was adopted by a voice vote amid thumping of desks by the members of the Treasury benches.
 
As soon as the Bill was passed, Mr Chacko adjourned the House for the day. 
 

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Finance ministry looking at relaxing investment norms for insurers

During their meeting with finance minister P Chidambaram, heads of the PSU insurers pitched for relaxation in investment norms to help the sector earn more premium income

 
New Delhi: The finance ministry is looking at the possibility of relaxing norms for insurance companies to attract more funds for the infrastructure sector as part of efforts to prop-up the sagging economy, reports PTI.
 
During their meeting with finance minister P Chidambaram, heads of the PSU insurers pitched for relaxation in investment norms to help the sector earn more premium income.
 
Talking to reporters after the meeting, financial services secretary DK Mittal told reporters that the issue of channelising their investment into productive sectors, particularly the infrastructure sector, was discussed.
 
“For that what changes are to be made in the regulations by the Government of India or by Income Tax Department ...everything has been looked at,” Mr Mittal said.
 
He, however said no decision was taken and another meeting would be held shortly.
 
“This meeting was not for taking decisions. It was basically for understanding, as a part of a series of meetings that the finance minister (P Chidambaram) is holding with different groups, key groups, what we can do to prop up the economy,” Mr Mittal added.
 
As per estimates, the investment corpus with the life insurance companies is around Rs13 lakh crore. Of this, only 20% currently goes towards the infrastructure sector.
 
As per the current Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) norms, insurance companies can invest only in highest rated ‘AAA’ or ‘AA’ credit-rated debt paper.
 
Life insurance companies are allowed to invest up to 50% in government securities, 15% in infrastructure bonds and 35% in other investment grade corporate bonds and equities.
 
“There is a need to revisit investment norms for insurance companies. Will look at revising investment regulations over the next month,” IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan said after the meeting.
 
The regulator is at present mulling options to allow sector companies to invest more in non-AAA rated securities, including ‘A+’ and ‘A’ papers of corporates.
 
 Last year, the Department of Industrial Policy had favoured allowing life insurance companies to invest in greater quantity in non-AAA rated debt instruments to encourage flow of funds to infrastructure projects.
 
India needs about a trillion dollar investment in the infra space during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).
 

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RBI expresses helplessness on shortage of coins of rupees one and five

It is the finance ministry and not the RBI that is responsible for all the confusion over the...

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