Even as the government weighs the option of holding the monsoon session of Parliament in the latter part of August, it will use the earliest available opportunity to convert as many ordinances into legilation, including the ones on bringing co-operative banks under the RBI regulation and suspension of insolvency proceedings for one year against fresh default.
Management of Covid-19 pandemic and tensions at the border with China are likely to be flash points between the opposition and treasury benches in the likely shorter session of Parliament. The session will likely be a hybrid one with both physical and virtual attendance by MPs to maintain social distancing to avoid spread of coronavirus.
Given the paucity of time, the government will likely to give priority to passage of ordinances and some other key pending economic Bills to mitigate hardship of businesses and give succour to people. Besides the ordinances, there are about 45 pending Bills before Parliament.
On June 27, the government notified the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, to bring urban as well as multi-state co-operative banks under the RBI regulation and make it easier for them to access capital. The idea is to protect the interests of depositors and better scrutinise the affairs of these co-operative banks following the Punjab Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank crisis.
As part of Atmanirbhar package to fight Covid-19, the Centre had issued the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, on June 5 to suspend insolvency proceedings for up to one year against fresh default from March 25. The move is aimed at providing breather to thousands of firms battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has to get Parliament’s approval for both the Bills as well as similar other Bills, provisions of which are already in force thanks to the ordinances issued.
On June 5, the government had issued the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, that bars state governments from taxing inter-state farm trade and virtually allows farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country without being impeded by the APMC mandis. Through another ordinance (the Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services), farmers would get share of post-contract price surge, after they sign agreements of contract farming with private players. Also, they will have the cover of minimum guaranteed price if open market/mandi rates fall drastically.
The ordinance to amend the Essential Commodities Act strives to remove cereals, edible oil, oil seeds, pulses, onions and potato from its purview. The reforms will help evacuate the surpluses from production zones to demand zones seamlessly, to the advantage of farmer-producers and players across the agriculture value chain, who have also been promised solid support by way of schemes and outlays to build infrastructure and logistical chains from farm-gate to the retail trade, and even exports.
Among other Bills, the government may seek approval of Parliament for three important labour codes – Codes on Industrial Relations, Social Security and Operational Safety, Health & Working Conditions. The Bills provide reform proposals, including easier hiring and retrenchment freedom for employers and redefining of trade unions’ role, social security and operational safety, health & working conditions. Another Bill pertains to rules under the code on wages to ensure minimum wages for workers.