Condemning the Union Government’s decision to go in for Life Insurance Corporation’s Initial Public Offer for selling its stakes, LIC workers walked out of their work place for about two hours from 11.30 a.m. on Wednesday and staged a demonstration.
Leading the agitation held in front of LIC Divisional Office in Palayamkottai on Wednesday, Muthukumarasamy, secretary of LIC Employees Union, said the government’s decision to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the insurance sector from 49% to 74% has triggered unrest among LIC employees, who were opposing it ever since the proposal was mooted.
When the proposal was included in the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman said the FDI cap would be revised ‘with safety measures.’
Even after private companies were allowed to enter the insurance sector 22 years ago, the 65-year-old LIC was holding 74% of the market share and had invested ₹ 36 lakh crore in the nation’s development.
“The Centre’s decision to go in for Initial Public Offer (IPO) or increasing FDI will seriously undermine the well-being of LIC, its employees and the policyholders. This dangerous move will enable foreign investors or a small number of billionaires to control LIC’s valuable resources worth ₹ 39 lakh crore, which is going to be under the control of a few individuals or firms. So, we will resist this move,” he said.
He said the LIC, despite stiff competition from private players, had won the people’s trust and was leading the sector. It had been sharing its surplus funds with the government and the policyholders as per its founding objectives. They would be weakened if the IPO was allowed.
“It will fall into the hands of the foreign companies if the FDI is increased. The profits given to the government for executing welfare schemes and development projects and shared with the investors will go to the hands of a small number of super rich investors or foreign firms,” he said.
He said the All India Insurance Employees’ Association and the Insurance Corporation Employees’ Union were mobilising public opinion against increasing FDI cap in insurance sector. “The people and the MPs have understood the threat,” he said.
Terming the LIC IPO as the first move to privatise the insurance firm, he said the value of the LIC had been tweaked to protect the interests of the new investors.
Similar protests were organised in front of the LIC offices in Tenkasi, Thoothukudi and Kanniyakumari districts.