Economic growth can help deepen insurance coverage: Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on September 1 expressed the hope that India will become a fully insured and socially secured nation as economic expansion gathers momentum over the years. “As the economy grows faster, I hope we will become a fully insured and socially secured nation over the years, and I am sure LIC can play a very big role in achieving this,” Jaitley said, launching the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the nation’s largest financial powerhouse in Mumbai.

Taking a potshot at central trade unions that have called for a national strike tomorrow to protest against labour reforms, among other things, he rued that his Budget proposal for contributory social security net had to be withdrawn due to opposition from all around.

He also recalled that how trade unions opposed the Seventh Pay Commission proposal to have a contributory social cover.

“But I have no doubt that one day we will realise the value of social security and insurance and we will one day become a fully socially secured nation,” he said.

Lauding Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for remaining the market leader with over 70 per cent market even after competition was allowed 16 years ago, Jaitley said: “I am glad that very few monopolistic institutions of the state have prospered in a competitive market environment and still continues to remain the market leader as LIC has done over the years.”

Normally state monopolies find it difficult to survive in a competitive environment, as the private sector devoid of bureaucratic hurdles can take market-oriented decisions faster in such climate and thus thrive, “but LIC has been able to do so even after the liberalisation”, he noted.

To retain its leadership, Jaitley asked the Corporation to be more and more innovative in its product offerings as well as nation building efforts so that it can continue to serve and achieve the objectives for which it was created way back in 1956.

Recalling the contribution of the Corporation to nation-building, Jaitley noted that LIC is the largest investor in our nation’s growth story with over Rs 4 trillion (Rs 4 lakh crore) in investments into key sectors of the economy.

The Finance Minister also said, his counterpart at the Health Ministry is working on a plan to offer a health cover of Rs 1 lakh to the poor who form one-third of the population.

Meanwhile, outgoing LIC chairman SK Roy handed over a cheque of Rs 2,502 crore for last fiscal year, up from Rs 1,803 crore given in the previous year, to the Finance Minister as part of sharing its surplus with its owner.

Roy also announced that as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Corporation will pay a one-time special bonus to policyholders over and above the annual payout of its profit sharing.

As per the LIC Act, the Corporation has to share 95 per cent of its profit, which in LIC’s parlance is called ‘surplus’ has to be shared with the policyholders and the rest with the government as its owner.

Accordingly, in 2014-15, LIC had paid Rs 34,283 crore as regular annual bonus to the policyholders.