Rajya Sabha today passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill. Members taking part in the discussion pointed out that the Centre as a majority shareholder in public sector banks could have decided to initiate proceedings earlier. According to the RBI, loans extended by public sector banks account for 88% of the NPAs in the country. The Minister of Finance, while speaking on the Bill informed members that most NPAs were found to be in the steel sector, followed by infrastructure, power and textile sectors.

Lok Sabha passed the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill. The Bill merges the State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore with the State Bank of India. Members participating in the debate raised concerns about the preparedness of such a merger.

Two Bills were also introduced in the Lower House. These were the Code on Wages, 2017 and the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017.

The Code on Wages consolidates and amends the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 under one law.

The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill proposes to establish a framework to resolve insolvency in financial firms. The Bill has been referred to a Joint Committee of both houses comprising 30 members.

However, before its reference, several members raised objections to the formation of a Joint Committee to examine the Bill.  Members argued that the Bill should be examined by the Department Related Standing Committee on Finance which includes members from across political parties, from both houses.  It was also pointed out that by repeated formation of Joint Committees to examine bills, the system of Department Related Standing Committees was being subverted and weakened.

The Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare submitted its report on the Surrogacy Regulation Bill. The Bill currently proposes altruistic surrogacy and prohibits commercial surrogacy. The report of the Committee questions the basis of having such an altruistic surrogacy arrangement without a compensation element to the surrogate mother.

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