Minister acknowledges corruption in railways

Minister acknowledges corruption in railways

Minister acknowledges corruption in railways

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu today acknowledged existence of corruption at various levels in his ministry and said the government is determined to weed it out through stringent action and putting in place a transparent system.

"There have been instances, allegations, complaints of corruption about corrupt practices at various levels...One of the memebers of the Railway Board is under suspension. I agree that we need to take corrective steps," Prabhu said replying to questions in Rajya Sabha.

He acknowledeged the existence of corruption and corrupt practices in areas including award of contracts and employment. He also admitted to instances of hoodwinking of people.

Prabhu said his ministry is trying to put in place a system in all award of contacts and introduce "utmost transparency" in other areas including appointments.

"We have implemented utmost transparency. We need to change the whole system...There is corruption at various levels...But we are committed to do everything to weed out corruption," Prabhu said.

"We need to take very stringent measures. We have sought the services of former CAG Vinod Rai... He is my Advisor. We will take as many steps as possible in as many areas as desirable to prevent corruption," the minister added.

In order to prevent hoodwinking of people, he said, the Railways have started a web-based interactive redressal mechanism where one can lodge a complaint using mobile. Update of the complaint can also be tracked.

Prabhu said corruption generally prevails if the system is susceptible to it.  The Railways Minister said the number of officers on whom punishments were imposed departmentally as a result of vigilance proceedings were 251 in 2012, 168 in 2013 and 231 in 2014.
Similarly, sanctions were given to CBI for prosecution of 15,16 and 13 officers respectively in those years, he said.

"Railways have well established systems, rules and procedures which guide its various functions. Taking corrective measures, as and when required, is a continuous process," Prabhu said in the written reply.

"If any irregularity is detected, suitable disciplianry action is taken, depending upon the gravity of the charges and in consultation with the Central Vigilence Commission, in cases of involving Group A officers," he added.

The Minister also highlighted the recent intiatives taken to prevent corruption including putting details of all tenders on website, stores procurement through e-tendering and reverse auctions, changes in the tatkal reservation process and on-line allotment of rakes among others.

The Bill, however, protects persons holding foreign accounts with minor balances which may not have been reported out of oversight or ignorance, from criminal consequences.
"Evasion of tax robs the nation of critical resources necessary to undertake programmes for social inclusion and economic development. It also puts a disproportionate burden on the honest tax payers as they have to bear the brunt of higher taxes to make up for the revenue leakage caused by evasion," it said.

Under the measure, the tax authorities have been vested with powers of discovery and inspection, issue of summonses, enforcement of attendance, production of evidence and impounding of books of account and documents.

It also provides for adequate safeguards, making it mandatory to issue notices and grant opportunity to the assessee of being heard.

Appeal to the ITAT, High Courts and Supreme Court has also been provided to safeguard the interest of the assessee.

As per the Bill, the Government have been empowered to enter into agreements with other countries or jurisdictions for exchange of information, recovery of tax and avoidance of double taxation.

Amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, would be carried out to include offence of tax evasion as a scheduled offence under the Act.

Referring to the new legislation, Jaitley had yesterday said: "we are going to make sure that there is no scope for misuse, but at the same time there is a deterrent for those who stock money abroad".

The proposal to come out with a new law on the black money was announced by Jaitley in his Budget speech last month.

The issue of black money, especially alleged stashing of illicit wealth abroad in places like Switzerland, has been a matter of huge political debate for a long time.

The government has also been under pressure to act on the issue of black money, as BJP had mounted a huge campaign during the Lok Sabha polls last year with an assurance to check this menace.

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