Friday, October 22, 1999 Published at 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
World: South Asia
Analysis: Upping the pace of reform
Legislation for the insurance sector is high on the agenda
By South Asia business editor Sumant Bhatia
In the first week of the new parliamentary session, the Indian cabinet has been busy preparing economic legislation.
But are the measures a sign that the pace of reform has been stepped up, and that foreign investment will flow into the country?
The cabinet seems to have been working overtime this week to release its proposals for parliament.
Ashish Pitale, head of research at bankers JP Morgan in Bombay, says the bill is highly symbolic.
"If this bill does become law, it indicates that there is indeed a strong reform agenda that is likely to be carried forward," he adds.
But others are not quite so evangelical about reforms.
The telecom migration package will mean private companies in the sector will pay more realistic fees for their licences, and the length of those licences will be extended.
"We want to see legislative reforms wherein the regulator's powers are enhanced...to make sure that the competition is safeguarded and disputes are resolved in an effective manner," he said.
"These are very obvious powers which almost every other regulator in the world enjoys," he said.
With the BJP-led government in India enjoying a more stable majority in the new parliament, more reform measures that should open up the economy to greater competition are expected to be passed.
But how radical that reform process will be is still a a matter of debate.
Investors in the meantime are still piling in to India, as firms there continue to enjoy bumper profits, especially in the flagship software sector.
It has meant that share prices in Bombay have already risen an impressive 60% this year.