Derek O’Brien’s supplementary question on the prices of essential drugs

Sir, the Minister, in her reply of five pages, gives a good certificate to the Indian pharmaceutical companies in a very positive way. Sir, in light of that, here is my supplementary question.

It is about 74% FDI in pharma, which can also go up to 100% by just having a cursory review by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Sir, if you look at the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendations of 2013, this increase in FDI would lead to the increase in medicine prices for the common man. There is this policy in Bengal in which 48-77% discount is being given on medicines.

So, my supplementary question is, what steps is the Government taking to make medicines affordable prices, and ensure that prices are not affected by FDI.

Here is the second supplementary question. In January 2016, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) removed the limit of 5% customs duty on import of 61 drugs and withdrew customs duty exemptions from 15 drugs. These will now see an increase in duty from 0-5% to about 10%. Some of these medicines are on the National List of Essential Medicines and the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines and include critical drugs like Cancer and Thalassemia drugs. Prices of these drugs were expected to rise by 5-20% if cost of duties is passed on to customers. What is the current status of these exemptions and has the Government taken any steps to ensure that the cost of these exemptions are not passed on to consumers and domestic producers?

Trinamool attacks Centre again on FDI 

Statement by Derek O’Brien, Chief National Spokesperson:
Trinamool Congress has consistently been opposed to FDI reforms in many areas and often outlined reasons for it at different forums, including four election manifestos since 2009 and in both Houses of Parliament. It is nice to know other parties are now following our lead.
  • The Centre’s latest decision relaxing FDI in pharma without proper regulation will affect medicine prices, hurting the middle class and the poor.
  • The Centre’s decision to allow FDI in pharma upto 74% in brownfield projects will adversely influence the Indian industry, market and common people.
  • International competition will crush farmers who are already suffering because of weather conditions and volatile market due to FDI in Food Processing.
  • FDI in defence increased to 100% and condition to access state-of-the-art technology taken out with no regard for the indigenous defence technology and market.


এফডিআই নিয়ে কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারকে আবার আক্রমণ তৃণমূলের

কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের এফডিআই নীতি সম্বন্ধে জাতীয় মুখপাত্র ডেরেক ওব্রায়েন এর বিবৃতি:

তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস ধারাবাহিকভাবে এফডিআই নীতির বিরোধিতা করেছে সব ক্ষেত্রে। ২০০৯ সালের নির্বাচনী ইস্তেহার এবং সংসদ সহ বিভিন্ন ফোরামে এর কারণ ব্যাখ্যা করা হয়েছে। এটা খুব ভালো কথা যে বাকি দলগুলিও এখন আমাদের অনুসরণ করছে।

ফার্মা সেক্টরে সঠিক নিয়ন্ত্রণ ছাড়াই কেন্দ্রের নতুন এফডিআই নীতি ওষুধের দামের ওপর প্রভাব ফেলবে যার ফলে মধ্যবিত্ত ও দরিদ্র মানুষ অসুবিধার সম্মুখীন হবে।

বেসরকারি ফার্মা সংস্থাগুলির ক্ষেত্রে এফডিআইয়ের সীমা বাড়িয়ে ৭৪ শতাংশ করা হয়েছে যা ভারতীয় শিল্প, বাজার ও মানুষের ওপর বিরূপ প্রভাব ফেলবে।

খাদ্য প্রক্রিয়াকরণে এফডিআইয়ের ফলে আন্তর্জাতিক বাজারের প্রতিযোগিতা কৃষকদের যারা ইতিমধ্যেই খারাপ আবহাওয়া এবং পরিবর্তনশীল বাজারের জন্য ভুক্তভোগী, তাদের সর্বনাশ করছে।

প্রতিরক্ষায় এফডিআই বেড়ে ১০০ শতাংশ হয়েছে, স্টেট অফ দ্য আর্ট প্রযুক্তি ব্যবহার করার বাতাবরণ বন্ধ হয়েছে, দেশজ প্রতিরক্ষা প্রযুক্তি এবং বাজারকে বিবেচনা না করে।




Trinamool slams new FDI announcements

Statement by Derek O’Brien, Chief National Spokesperson:

Trinamool have consistently opposed this policy and have often outlined our reasons for it at different forums, including our election manifestos and Parliament. This will have a negative effect on employment, the economy and the Indian market as a whole. In the name of ‘Make in India’, they are ‘Breaking India’


কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের এফডিআই নীতি সম্বন্ধে জাতীয় মুখপাত্র ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন এর বিবৃতি:

তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস ধারাবাহিকভাবে এফডিআই এর বিরোধিতা করছে। আমরা আমাদের নির্বাচনী ইস্তেহারে এবং সংসদ সহ বিভিন্ন ফোরামে এর কারণ ব্যাখ্যা করেছি। কর্মসংস্থান ও অর্থনীতি সহ ভারতের বাজারের উপর এটি সম্পূর্ণ ভাবে নেতিবাচক প্রভাব ফেলবে। Make in India-র নামে Breaking India হচ্ছে।

Bengal growth story not highlighted on national scale: Amit Mitra

Interview of Dr Amit Mitra, Hon’ble Industries & Finance Minister, West Bengal

Q: Is Bengal suffering from a perception issue?

Dr Mitra: Bengal’s reality has changed a lot. It is not being shown on national scale. Bengal’s GDP is growing at 10%. The state is surging ahead in every field, be it agriculture, services or industry. Our slogan is “Come to Bengal, Ride the growth”.


Q: Is WB Govt suffering from communication issue?

Dr Mitra: Media channels are the main source of communication. Some local media channels do not want to show the Bengal growth story.


Q: What is the sales pitch of Bengal in UK?

Dr Mitra: We will highlight all the macroeconomic parameters. Investment proposals worth Rs 84000 crore are already underway. If you take our statistics that I have submitted in the State Legislative Assembly, there will be a lot of heads turning.

Changi airport and SAIL are taking up projects which will not only help in infrastructure but also generate employment. We have land in 38 industrial parks. 4500 acres of land are ready for industries. All departments together have 100000 acres of land which can be put to judicious use.

We have an analytics park coming up at Kalyani. AIIMS-like hospital and several universities in the pipeline too. All this is coming up on government land. We have cleared 7500 acres of private land which is vested and already in the market. The largest technology park of the Central Govt is coming up in Kolkata.

Five tea estates belonging to State Government, which were lying closed for a long time, have been given out in transparent, competitive manner. The transition of the tea estates also saw 100% employee retention. Haldia Petrochemicals is receiving 95% capacity even as stake sale process is underway.

We have applied our minds and are moving ahead at a fantastic pace regarding the issue of land and SEZ. Research shows that SEZs are not sustainable in India which have become a playground for real estate.

Bengal is a power-surplus State now. NTPC is taking up power projects in the State. Bengal is water-surplus State, thanks to the Jal Dharo Jal Bharo project.

The MoUs that will be signed in London are across the board and will encompass all major small and large industries.


Q: Will you change your FDI policy?

Dr Mitra: We will not change our policy. Let me be clear because it is our commitment to the people. We have a mall in the heart of Kolkata which is the highest rated mall in India. So who is against business houses setting up shop? We welcome companies to enter Bengal.

We have eased the process of doing business. One of the biggest problems was mutation. WB CM has put a 30 days limit for the process.

West Bengal Government received award from Central Govt for e-taxation. We are the only State in India to go cheque-free in taxation.

Kanyashree is a revolutionary programme where 22 lakh girls have been registered for financial assistance to pursue education and got appreciation from United Nations as well.

Derek O’Brien speaks on the Appropriation (Railways) No. 2 Bill, 2015 | Full Transcript

Full Transcript

Sir, this government is talking to us about cooperative federalism. But unfortunately, if you look at the way they are dealing with Railways, they are killing federalism.

Even the MP, who spoke first today, suggested to his Minister to complete the existing projects. Mr Railway Minister, your own MP from the back benches is asking you to complete the existing projects, I am also saying the same thing. Complete the existing projects in Bengal.

You keep telling us that you gave us so many thousand crores. But look at the percentage of the funds also and not just the numbers. You go on and on about SPVs – Special Purpose Vehicles. I am beginning to wonder whether SPVs are Special Purpose Vehicles or are they Suresh Prabhu Vehicles.

Your intention is good but you have a basic problem. You are suggesting setting up of SPVs for each project and after completion they will be dissolved. The problem is you want the States to fund SPVs.

Sir, West Bengal is a debt-stressed state, like Punjab and other states. We have increased our revenues by 105% in the last three years without increasing taxes. But we carry a legacy of debt-burden. The CPM had to go out of power because of that and we are paying the interest for the debt they incurred.

While you are talking about cooperative federalism, you have to keep in mind the debt-stressed states. I also want to refer to my neighbouring state Odisha. Please study what happened with POSCO and associated SPV there. It ran into several problems.

Sir, the message I want to leave you with is very simple. Like your MP said in the beginning, complete the existing projects. You have not announced any new projects. Fair enough. Do not deprive states which are debt-stressed. Try SPVs once or twice, it will fail in six months and you will come back to normal.

You keep saying you are increasing the allocation of money to States from 32% to 42%. In reality, you are not. Please Mr Railway Minister please do consider these points, that is my request to you.

Thank you, Sir.

Trinamool opposes Insurance Bill in Rajya Sabha

Leader of Trinamool Congress in Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, today opposed the Insurance Bill which seeks to increase the cap on FDI in insurance sector from 26% to 49%.

He said, “In the last five years, the insurance penetration has dropped by 1%. FDI in insurance, has given you Rs 7,800 crore and LIC Dividend has given you Rs 12,000 to 14,000 crore in the last 10 years.”

He raised the point that average annual premium that an individual has to pay, for the private insurance companies is Rs 60,000 whereas for LIC is it only Rs 9,000.

Regarding claim settlement, Derek O’Brien said, “LIC’s settlement figure is at 99.86 % whereas private sector is at 79%. These are IRDA figures. Lapse ratio for LIC is 5% as compared to 47% in private sector insurance.”

He warned the Government of the dangers of exposure to global recession and reminded the Government of how AIG had to be bailed out with $ 200 billion.

Trinamool Congress walked out of Rajya Sabha on this Insurance Bill issue.

Click here for the transcript of Derek O’Brien’s speech

Sultan Ahmed raises Question on Revival of Sick PSUs

Sawal hai sick PSU. Deshbhar me 65 Public Sector Undertakings me 11 Bengal me ateh hai – Tyre Corporation, National Jute Manufacturing, Hindustan Cable, Burn Standard.

Desh ke awal PSUs me inka shumar kisi jamane me hota tha. Lekin aaj unke hazaro hazar workers bhukmari me unke din guzar rahe hai.

Is sarkar ne bahut hi swatchata and inamdari sath jo coal auction wagera ka kaam shuru kiya hai, kya is tarah ka parikalpana hai ane wale dino me yeh PSUs ko bhi auction ke zariye ho, yea FDI lakar ho – Foreign Direct Investment lakar ho inko revive karne hai kyuki yeh dekha ja raha hai hazaro hazar crore rupaiya salana kharch hote hai, tankhaye di jati hai, lekin kam kuch nehi ho rahe hai.

Kya sarkar ne koi parikalpana banaya hai, mai maniye mantri se puchna chahata hu.


Translation :

I would like raise a Question on Revival of Sick PSUs. In the Country there are about 65 public sector undertakings out of which 11 are in Bengal – Tyre Corporation, National Jute Manufacturing, Hindustan Cable, Burn Standard. At one point of time they were leading PSUs of the Country. But now, thousands of their workers are living in hunger and poverty.

This Government with a lot of transparency and honesty has undertaken projects like coal auction etc. Does it have any such plans in the near future to auction these PSUs or bring in FDI to revive these industries, as thousands of rupees are spent, but there is no outcome.

I would like to question the Minister what is the Government’s plan on this?

Saugata Roy raises objection on Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 | Transcript

On behalf of my party we have always been opposed to the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015. The main part of this Bill is the raising of Foreign Equity Investment cap in Insurance sector from 26% to 49%. This allowing of FDI in a big way in Insurance sector is something which is against the interest of the country and hence I oppose this.

It is very ironical that what father proposes the son disposes. Sir, in 2011 the Standing Committee of Finance in Parliament headed by Sri Yashwant Sinha, had recommended not to increase the FDI limit in the Insurance Sector. This is what is happening in BJP that senior generation prescriptions are being overruled by junior section. Yashwant Sinha’s recommendation is being totally ignored by his son, Hon’ble Minister Jayant Sinha.

Sir, it has been mentioned that this law is made in bad taste and undue haste as this Insurance Bill was all along the property of Rajya Sabha. First, the UPA II govt brought this in. Then it went to the Standing Committee on Finance. The Standing Committee on Finance gave its report in 2011. The again after the new Government came into power, in August 2014, a Select Committee on Rajya Sabha was formed and that select committee gave its report. Earlier,there were 88 amendments proposed by the Standing Committee on Finance then 11 more amendments were proposed. So all together 99 amendments were there.  The Select Committee presented the report and the Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Sir, just imagine, on 23 December 2014, Parliament adjourned and on 26 December 2014 this Ordinance was promulgated. Is it not going behind the back of the Parliament? Who are we sending a signal to that we shall implement this FDI in Insurance no matter what Parliament thinks. This is not good.

How does the Junior Finance Minister ensure that this time it will be passed in Rajya Sabha? Anybody you might have invited will have to go back empty handed. I strongly oppose this form of legislative practice going behind the back of the Insurance sector.

Sir, let me also tell you, that the private sector let alone the FDI has not performed well in Insurance sector. It was in the wake of the Mudra scandal that LIC was nationalised during Jawaharlal Nehru’s Prime Ministership in 1957. During Mrs Gandhi’s Prime Ministership the General Insurance business was nationalised in 1973 and now in 1999 when the NDA was in power they brought the new Insurance Act which opened general insurance to the private sector. IRDA was formed at that time and they have allowed this private sector into the industry.

Now Sir, what has happened, I tell you something, compare the performance of LIC with that of the private sector. Of course this Bill does not concern LIC directly but LIC by 2014 enlisted more than 30 crore policy holders and generated more than Rs 16 lakh crore investable funds. 11 lakh LIC agents are there. LIC today commands 85% of the policy market and 75% of the total premium collected. LIC is public sector, it has performed commendably in the Insurance sector.   Now if you compare LIC lapsing with private industry, more than 99% settlements of the claims and more than 99% of death claims this is the performance of LIC.

Now, the private sector Future Generali 49%, Prudential 42%, Reliance 38%, Bharati AXA 36%. This means they pay one premium  and their money is forfeited by the insurance company. Now you want more private players in insurance sector? I can understand in life insurance because life insurance is a long term investment, so you can invest money in life insurance for long term in infrastructural gains. I can even understand if FDI comes into infrastructural sector, to build huge roads, ports, etc. But Sir, in GIC which is basically health insurance, motor car insurance, shop insurance against theft, these premiums are one to two years how are you going to gain if Foreign Direct Investment comes in? It gives you no special privilege. It basically involves small savings and in general insurance only a short period of one year or so is involved. So the purpose of generating long-term investment funds is not possible in the general insurance sector.

Sir, another thing, they say the enhancement of FDI limit assumes that there is a lack of funds in this sector. The assumptions have no basis in the sense that the business in the hands of high end business houses and also insurance business has no link between investment and volume of business. For instance, Bajaj Allianz which has an investment of a total capital of Rs 4800 Crore, premium income of Rs 6893 Crore, yet SBI life has premium income of Rs 10450 Crore with capital and reserves of Rs 2710 Crore. What does this prove? It means that if you have more investment it does not mean you will have more premium income. This whole logic of the Government in pacing ahead with FDI insurance in insurance sector is flawed with dangerous consequences. Because in case of FDI, they take out more money than they actually put in. they will invest something then quickly take out more money because that is their policy.

Sir, the other thing I want to mention is that LIC employees have gone on strike against this FDI in insurance. The insurance agents, their whole functioning has been taken out of law, it is put in the hands of IRDA and the work of surveyors have also been taken out of the ambit of the law. Who is this meant to help? You have only said that some big investment will come in the health sector. Sir, you can really never depend on foreign companies to really help out in health insurance sector. Mostly the insurance companies are cheating people. They say ‘we will give you cashless treatment’ but later they say that ‘your claim is not tenable’ to many people?

So Sir, may I request the Minister, not to pursue this bill. In any case it will get stuck in Rajya Sabha. So let him show the broadness of vision, let hi legislate on the insurance sector as a whole, including life insurance and let him not allow the FDI to infiltrate into this very vital sector of the economy.

Saugata Roy opposes the introduction of Insurance Bill | Transcript

As per Rule 71 (1) of the Rules of Procedure, I oppose the introduction of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014 to further amend the Insurance Act, 1938 and the General Insurance Business Nationalisation Act, 1972, and to amend the IRD Act 1999.

My esteemed colleagues have already mentioned some points. The history of the Bill is stated in the Statement of Objects and Reasons in this Bill. If I may read just two lines, the Select Committee this was appointed in August 2014 incorporated amendments to the Insurance Laws along with 99 official amendments, the Cabinet approved the proposal to enable the Bill as quoted by Select Committee to be taken up into consideration and passing. According the Finance Minister, who is not here, who has gone to the States, has given a notice in the RS, that the Bill as reported by the Select Committee be taken into consideration and be passed. However the Bill could not be taken up into consideration during the Winter Session, 2014.

Then again the Govt for some reason felt that there was urgency in the matter, so the Cabinet approved on the 24 December, promulgation of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014, and it was issued on 26 December, 2014. Now after the Ordinance was promulgated in the current session, the Government gave a motion in the Rajya Sabha to withdraw the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill from the Rajya Sabha. However the Government’s motion for withdrawal could not be passed, so the fact remains that the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, as per the report of the Select Committee appointed by the Rajya Sabha, remains in the Rajya Sabha, and is the property of the Rajya Sabha.

Now, show me one instance in the last 65 years of the operation of Constitution of India that a Bill, while it is still pending in one House was presented in another House. If we do that this whole Constitution, as was pointed out by Sampat, which talks of a bi-cameral system, the Rajya Sabha has no powers as far is financial matters are concerned, but as far as Legislative matters are concerned, Rajya Sabha has equal powers as the Lok Sabha. So while the Bill remains in the Rajya Sabha, we have objection to the Bill, we do not agree this 49% of FDI in Insurance. I will not go into the substance of the Bill, I am talking of the procedural point, that while the Bill remains the property of the other House, can the Lok Sabha overlook that and bring first an ordinance, and then introduce a Bill? Are we subjected to Ordinance raj? Are we subjected to a system where there is a Constitutional Imbroglio?

These sort of questions have to be answered and clarified, once and for all not only for this Bill but also for posterity, whether a Bill remaining pending in one House, not allowed to be adjourned in that House, can be introduced in the other House. Same Bill going from one House to another House, and an Ordinance coming in, this is not the way a Govt should function.

So I oppose the introduction, of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act and we shall ask for a revision on this Motion, opposing the introduction of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill.


Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks on FDI in Railways and Defense | Transcript

Sir, I have only two short points to submit. As the Hon Leader of the House has stated, it is true that both, the FDIs in Railways and Defence, were discussed along with the Railway Budget and the General Budget. But there was no structured discussion on FDI in Railways and FDI in Defence. So, we would like to have an assurance from the Government that this would be discussed immediately after the Question Hour, so that the Members can express their views.