New Delhi: Government, which has of late been talking of pushing reforms, may get support from BJP on raising the FDI in insurance sector if it "reaches out" to the opposition.
"We will see. They have to reach out to us with their concrete proposals. We'll look at it. If we find it worth supporting, we will certainly support," BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has said.
He was replying to a question whether BJP would support the government if it comes out with a proposal that goes upto 49 per cent foreign direct investment in the insurance sector the way the BJP-led NDA government had proposed earlier.
"Well, you are asking me a hypothetical question. When I had discussed it earlier with the then finance minister, he agreed with us that it should be restricted to 26 per cent," Sinha told Karan Thapar in Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN.
When asked if there is room for BJP to support the government if it goes upto 49 per cent in the way the BJP thought of 49 per cent, Sinha said, "they will have to reach out to us." During the NDA regime, BJP had proposed to bring 49 per cent FDI in insurance if the balance of 23 per cent equity was given to NRIs, PIOs, OCBs, FIIs, but the Congress had opposed it then and demanded 26 per cent FDI instead.
Attacking the government, Sinha described the current economic situation in the country as "very serious", saying it is worse than it was in 1999" and squarely blamed outgoing finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and his predecessor P Chidambaram for it.
He also hit out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accusing him of being "dishonest" by trying to distance himself from the actions taken by the finance ministers in his Cabinet. Suggesting ways to improve the economy, Sinha -- who has been a former finance minister -- said, "It is a matter of almost life and death for this country that the fiscal deficit should be reined in".
"I would suggest that the total expenditure of government, which is about Rs 15 lakh crore, should immediately be reduced across the board by a 10 per cent cut. It should be reduced by Rs 1,50,000 crore, which will have an impact of reduction on fiscal deficit by 1.5 per cent," he said.
On General Anti-Avoidance Rules, he said it has not been drafted well and should not be put in cold storage. "Government should soften GARR by incorporating changes suggested by the standing committee on finance," he suggested. On the Vodafone case, Sinha said, the Parliament has the right to pass legislation especially in tax matters which have retrospective effect.
"But this is a power which has to be exercised with a great deal of caution," he said, adding, "The Vodafone case has clearly been very shabbily handled by the government... They should hold discussions with the company and the legal experts to find a way out."
Sinha said the BJP as a party was not in favour of FDI in retail. "That is something we have made very clear...FDI in retail, we are opposed and will continue to oppose. There is no circumstance which compels us to bring FDI in retail," he said.
On direct taxes code, he said it has been with the government since March of this year and the GST is under the consideration of Standing Committee on Finance. "We will be able to submit our report in the Monsoon Session of Parliament," he said. PTI