No policy paralysis in government, stresses Chidambaram

Brushing away as "absurd and patently untenable" the view that a policy paralysis has gripped the government, Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday said that seminal bills relating to anti-corruption, education and finance were pending in parliament, and called upon political parties to reflect on the delay in passing them.

Addressing a Group of Ministers (GoM) media briefing here, Chidambaram said the government had been pro-active and business-like to get the laws passed, but parliament had not been able to pass these. The minister stopped short of directly blaming the opposition for the delay in passing the bills. 

“The government proposed far-reaching and seminal measures in different areas. They (anti-corruption, education and finance and business) alone account for 26 bills," he noted.

"The argument that paralysis has gripped the government is patently untenable, incorrect and absurd. Government has been pro-active and business-like and keen to get the laws on statute book,” Chidambaram said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who also addressed media persons, said about 35 percent of time during parliament sittings was not being utilised due to obstructions.

“It is not right to say that government has not worked. About 70-75 bills are pending,” Bansal said and added that the government was also keen to increase sittings of the two houses of parliament.   

Chidambaram said it was unfortunate that the government was not able to pass the laws that include the Lokpal bill and the whistleblowers bill.

“We think that it is time for reflection by all political parties that are present in parliament and that believe in the parliamentary forum of democracy,” Chidambaram said.

Of the 26 pending bills on anti-corruption, education and finance, eight have been passed by the Lok Sabha and were pending before the Rajya Sabha.

Chidambaram said apart from the Lokpal bill and whistleblowers  bill, other anti-corruption legislations pending in parliament include right to citizens for time-bound delivery of goods and grievance redress bill, judicial standards and accountability bill, prevention of bribery of foreign public officials bill and benami transactions bill.  

He said only the Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill and whistleblowers bill were passed by the Lok Sabha and were before the Rajya Sabha.

He said nine bills relating to education were pending in parliament. These include educational tribunals bill, institutes of technology (amendment) bill, national institutes of technology (amendment) bill, prohibition of unfair practices in technical, medical educational institutions and university bill, national academic depository (amendment) bill, higher education and research bill and national accreditation regulatory authority for higher educational institutions bill.  

Referring to finance and business, Chidambaram said 11 bills were pending and none had been passed by either house. These include direct taxes code bill, companies bill, mines and minerals (development and regulation) bill, pension fund regulatory and development authority bill, insurances laws (amendment) bill and prevention of money laundering bill. 

He said some of the bills were with standing committees or had been reported by the committees. 

The home minister said the government can make up plans but these have to be supported by laws that contain provisions for funding, administration and enforcement. 
 
Asked about opposition by allies such as the Trinamool Congress to some of the bills, Chidambaram said the party had reservation about “one or two bills.” “We are talking to our allies,” he said.

The government has faced criticism about “policy paralysis” not only from the opposition but also from some top sections of industry.  

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