UPA II plans to look pro-poor

UPA II plans to look pro-poor

Six laws lined up for Parliaments winter session

But the measures sound half-hearted–be they in relation with full-blast implementation of Right to Information (RTI) Act or giving minimum wages to the labourers working under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Unlike the UPA-1 when the thrust of Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and nudge of Left parties led to RTI and MGNREGA, the present Congress-led-coalition lost its steam after one year in the saddle. One of the policy initiatives that the UPA-2 now wants to showcase is implementing “open procurement policy”. According to Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, the finance ministry will bring a Public Procurement Bill in the coming session of the Parliament to introduce completely transparent procurement  in the government .

The new policy would be “a uniform one”, doing away with different kinds of tendering. Initiative in this direction was first taken in 2006. The government is the biggest buyer and openness would help check rampant corruption in the government departments.

Besides this, the government may bring five other legislations–all to be put in public domain– which would help fix accountability for corruption. On RTI, however, the government is nervous maintaining that the government would be guided by the course of democracy. Sources in the government sought to claim that even judiciary is  saying that “RTI is creating problems”.

The Centre receives about 6.4 lakh RTI applications of which 90 per cent are answered. States received 14 lakh RTI letters. The government is taking tentative steps towards curbing corruption in the private sector. There are long-pending proposals to strengthen corporate governance. A bill on corporate governance and accountability is also in the pipeline. Since private sector employees are not government servants, the Prevention of Corruption Act does not apply to them.

The  government has sought to upstage the Anna team by offering to make Lokpal a constitutional entity with more powers even than the EC.

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