Rajya Sabha

September 6, 2013

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks on Pension Fund Regulatory Bill, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir. Our Party, the All India Trinamool Congress, and our Leader, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, stand always for the welfare of the working class. This is why I rise to oppose this draconian Bill. The Bill, although it says that it is meant to promote old-age income security, but if we go through the provisions of the Bill, we find that this is a Bill to promote old-age income in securities. Sir, this is a black September to the millions of workers of our country because the time-tested social security arrangement, hitherto made available to the working class, has been abridged or withdrawn through this draconian Bill. Their bargaining power is shifted in the name of public good. Pension, Sir, is not a charity, but it is a return for the sacrifice and the services rendered by the employees. Sir, it seems that the Government refuses to see the writing on the wall. It has conveniently assigned for itself the role of an agent of multi-national corporates and the crony capitalists bent upon marauding the Indian economy. Otherwise, why the Indian Government shall keep opening mercilessly the door of Indian economy for the foreign capital when the role of unbridled capital in devastating the US and the European economy has amply been proved? Why has India been made a big bazaar for the international crooks?

Now all of us feel the effect. The flight of foreign capital has started after taking a pound of flesh from the body of each Indian and that too without any drop of blood. But we are bleeding from within.

Sir, many Latin American countries initiated and imitated the Chile model and reformed their pension schemes in 1990s, turning them into a fully or partially funded system of mandatory individual accounts. But privatisation of pension has not lived up to the provisions of proponents and supporters. Instead of handing over pension and savings of the workers to the vagaries of foreign economic expansionists, the Government should have followed those reformist countries, which are now introducing and working on reforming the reforms. This is the need of the hour that this reformist Government should work on reforming the reform, because it has been proved beyond doubt that all those measures taken by the Government in the name of reforms and liberalisation of economy are anti-people and anti-worker. If we give a quick look to some of the provisions of the Bill, whatever I have stated will be proved beyond doubt.

First of all, it is a very funny thing that I have found in this Bill. Clause 14(3) of Chapter V empowers the so-called authority to exercise the power of a civil court. It says that it will have the power to issue commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents. I have never heard of this thing that civil court issues commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents. The Government is always looking for commissions everywhere be it under the ground or above the ground. Here also, the Government, with that mindset, has introduced the word ‘commissions’. Perhaps it will be ‘summons’. If I am correct, it should be ‘summons’. But the Government is looking for commissions everywhere.

The second thing that I would like to say about this Bill is this. There is a provision for attachment of bank account of intermediaries. But it is also said in the proviso that only those accounts relating to pension will be attached. Suppose in the pension account there remains no balance, then what will be the effect of attaching that account? Other accounts of the intermediaries will not be touched. So, there will be Mehtas, there will be Parekhs, the public money will be looted and bank accounts will be attached without yielding any result.

The next provision that I would like to highlight is from Chapter VI. It says that there shall not be any implicit or explicit assurance of benefits except market-based guarantee mechanism. Again, those Mehtas and Parekhs will come and loot the money and the subscriber shall be captive to the so-called beneficial scheme.

Sir, clause 24 of the Bill is very important. I will take only one or two minutes. It is a very vital Bill. Clause 24 says, “The aggregate holding of equity shares by a foreign company either by itself or through its subsidiary companies or its nominees or by an individual or by an association of persons whether registered or not under any law of a country..” Those entities, irrespective of registration or not, in any country of the world will play with the money of the workers, the pension fund of the workers. It is surprising that the Government has provided a provision in this Bill in this fashion. What could be more anti-people, anti-workers?

That means, any entity – even an entity not having paper existence – can loot the money at their whims and fancies and the blanket intrusion of FDI, that is, Foreign Direct Intrusion, has been guaranteed by clause 24 by the Government. This is why, my Party strongly opposes this anti-labour Bill and I would appeal to all the Members of this House to vote against this Bill so that workers are not put in further distress. Thank you.