Economic agenda for parliament's winter session

Tuesday, 30 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI : Legislations to permit product-based patents, for rural employment and a regulator for the petroleum sector are on the agenda of the winter session of parliament that begins Wednesday.

A series of bills will also seek a revamp of the banking sector, with legislation proposed to strengthen banks' powers to collect bad debts and at the same time bind them to client confidentiality.

With 40 bills waiting to be discussed and passed in just 17 sittings till the session ends before Christmas, the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is hoping for a "hectic but smooth" session.

However, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given all indications of making trouble over a range of issues including price rise, the arrest of a Hindu pontiff and tainted ministers.

The Congress, which has returned to power after eight long years, has said it is ready to discuss any issue as long as the opposition gives proper notice.

Other key bills lined up for the winter session is the Lok Pal Bill to ensure transparency in government by making those in charge accountable to an ombudsman and the petroleum regulatory board.

If passed, the patents amendment bill would permit product-based patents for pharmaceuticals, food and chemical products for the first time in India.

India is bound to comply with the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement by introducing product-based patents January onwards.

The Left parties, which back the government from outside, have, however expressed apprehensions the impact the amendment will have on the country's booming software industry that has traditionally been protected under copyright laws that have provisions to ensure wide access to such work.

The government is also tipped to introduce the National Employment Guarantee bill seeking to provide jobs to the youth, as promised in the National Common Minimum Programme of the UPA.

Other bills likely to be taken up during the session include the Prevention of Terrorism (Repeal) Bill replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill.

A bill to replace the ordinance for the setting up of a national commission on minorities' educational institutions is also on the agenda.

The commission is meant to look into complaints about the violation of rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Bills currently pending in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, include the Central Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2004, Customs and Central Excise Laws (Repeal) Bill, 2004, and the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2002.

The Banking Regulation (Amendment), Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill and Pension Fund Regulatory Bill, are also up for consideration.

Source: IANS
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