Nirmala Sitharaman introduces Bill in Rajya Sabha to allow 74 pc FDI in insurance sector
New Delhi, Mar 15: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday introduced a Bill in Rajya Sabha that seek to amend the Insurance Act to pave the way for 74 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday had gave its nod for amendments in the Insurance Amendment Bill 2021. Finance Minister Sitharaman introduced the Bill for amendments in the Insurance Act, 1938.
Currently, the permissible FDI limit in the life and general insurance stands at 49 per cent with ownership and management control with Indian. Sitharaman presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22 had said, "I propose to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in insurance companies and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards."
Under the new structure, the majority of directors on the board and key management persons would be resident Indians, with at least 50 per cent of directors being independent directors, and specified percentage of profits being retained as a general reserve.
She had also said that for investor protection, an investor charter would be introduced as a right of all financial investors across all financial products. It was in 2015 when the government hiked the FDI cap in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent.
Increase in FDI will help improve life insurance penetration in the country. Life insurance premium as a percentage of GDP is 3.6 per cent in the country, way below the global average of 7.13 per cent, and in case of general insurance, it is even worse at 0.94 per cent of GDP, as against the world average of 2.88 per cent.
The government has earlier allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment in insurance intermediaries. Intermediary services include insurance brokers, reinsurance brokers, insurance consultants, corporate agents, third party administrators, surveyors and loss assessors.