Columbia(AFP): Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has acknowledged that the government may be bracing for a “political battle” on the Land Bill in Parliament but is confident that the insurance law will get “through”. The legislations on coal and minerals, he said, will be carried through “relatively easy” because they are “logical and rational”.
With the government having problem with numbers in the Rajya Sabha, he feels that there is an “obvious obstacle” when it comes to reforms measures that require legislative approval.
“While there are not many serious obstacles, one obvious obstacle is that those steps which require legislative approval… some of them will have to go through a procedure while some of the bills will be carried relatively easily because they are rational and logical bills,” he said addressing students and faculty at Columbia University in New York. He was replying to a question on what obstacles he sees in implementing economic reforms and measures.
On the land bill, Jaitley said, “certainly land becomes a slogan. Opposition will…..even though in the previous government when it was passed there were voices of protest. I think they may want to use it for a political battle Therefore, you will have to go through the whole Parliamentary process.”
The government has introduced a bill to replace an ordinance promulgated last year making changes to the Land Acquisition Act passed during the UPA regime in 2013 ahead of the last year’s general elections.
With political parties making clear their opposition to the land bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several ministers have said that the government was ready to look into changes in the law in the interests of farmers.
On the other bills to replace ordinances, the Finance Minister said some of these bills, including on coal and minerals, will be carried relatively easy because these rational and logical bills. No one can oppose auction and say first-come-first-serve basis is the best for distribution of natural resources, he said.
“Insurance, I hope will get through,” the minister added. Jaitley said the NDA government is trying to “radically alter” the 2013 Land Act to ensure developmental activities especially in rural areas.
“That is a very challenging piece of legislation for any government to alter. Ostensibly the popular view is you don’t allow any land to be acquired,” he said.
“This is the difficulty of passing these laws immediately on the eve of election because you come out with a highly impractical idea which is very difficult for anybody to oppose on the eve of election and then you rush through with it,” said Jaitley, who is here on a private visit.
“We have obsolete laws, procedures and practices which didn’t inspire confidence and gave right to government discretion and hence corruption,” he said , adding that the entire energy policy was “skewed up”.