All eyes are on the mood and tone of the Winter Session of Parliament. A plethora of changes are on the table and if the Monsoon Session is anything to go by, reformists will have a tough time
The Winter Session of Parliament, which begins on Thursday, will be a very important gauge as to the extent to which the announced reforms are being implemented. The direction of reforms in the coming months will depend on whether the ruling UPA government becomes stronger or weaker out of this winter session. This is the assessment of Nomura in its Asia Insights report.
Nomura does not see the UPA government at risk as the Congress has both inside (DMK, NCP, others) and outside (SP, BSP) support to tide over a no-confidence vote, in case the motion is raised, which itself is uncertain. The SP and the BSP are opposed to FDI (foreign direct investment) in multi-brand retail, but otherwise continue to support the government from outside. In terms of the reforms, Nomura expects the Companies Bill, Competition Bill, Banking Law and Forwards Contract Bill to sail through smoothly, but Insurance, Pension and Land Bills may face much more opposition.
Nomura’s worry is that even a discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail will lead to heated debates and could lead to disruption in parliamentary proceedings. If the debate on FDI in multi-brand retail is put to rest soon, there is hope that other reforms will also be passed. However, the Monsoon Session of Parliament did not inspire much confidence as the stand-off between the government and the opposition parties on issues of graft and corruption led to a complete washout of the parliamentary session. There is a risk that the Winter Session could go down the same road.
Media reports suggest that the TMC chief has not been able to gain enough support for the no-confidence motion, so the likelihood of the government falling is small. Instead, the government may choose to debate the thorny issue of FDI in multi-brand retail in parliament, as it is an executive decision and does not require parliamentary approval.
According to Nomura, some of the reforms announced by the government since September 2012 that will come up for approval during the Winter Session of Parliament include: