Two and a half months after T.S. Vijayan retired, the insurance regulatory body, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai), has got its 5th chairman, Subhash Chandra Khuntia. A former chief secretary to the Karnataka government, he has his desk overloaded as he takes over the wheel of a body that regulates firms managing over Rs28 trillion of household savings through life insurance and another Rs2.2 trillion in the non-life insurance space.
The insurance regulator has been an outlier in the financial regulatory space. While disagreements with the government by independent regulators are well reported, the conduct of the insurance regulator has left policy makers, the financial sector and analysts open mouthed. Many decisions over the past few years have been in the face of global moves by regulators on issues of costs and transparency. Raising front commissions in life insurance products, repackaging what were illegal payouts as “rewards”, doing away with a persistency target to ensure that agents don’t churn policyholders and continuing with fuzzy disclosures in both life and general insurance products are just some of the actions that have left households even more vulnerable to mis-selling and outright fraud by banks and agents.
The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Committee submitted its report on 23 January 2016, a bit over seven months after it was set up. Read more on the origin of FRBM here: bit.ly/2klLFki. Though the report is not public, news reports say that the panel has recommended fiscal consolidation, but not at the expense of growth. Reports say that it tells the government not to worry if the fiscal deficit stays at, or just above, 3%. If your eyes are glazing over, unglaze them, because we’ll find out what this means and how it affects our lives.