M A I N   N E W S

CMP a neat balancing act
Focus on agriculture and employment
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 27
After days of intense discussions, the new United Progressive Alliance (UPA) today unveiled its Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, lays down the broad guiding principles and programmes of the new government.

The Common Minimum Programme (CMP), as the name suggests, has sought to reconcile the demands and priorities of the Congress party’s pre-poll allies and the Left parties, which are lending outside support to the government. All the UPA partners have, in fact, got some basic demand incorporated in the final document while the imprint of the Left parties is indelible.

The DMK succeeded in ensuring the removal of POTA from the statute book, the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) extracted a promise on the creation of Telengana state, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has been assured of an economic package for Bihar while Lok Janshakti Party’s concern for Scheduled Castes has found mention in the document.

The Left parties have had their way on the issue of labour reforms. For instance, the CMP draft, discussed yesterday, had spoken of the need to provide some “flexibility” to industry on labour policy. The term “flexibility” has been removed in the final document which now reads,” Some changes in labour laws may be required but such changes must fully protect the interests of workers.”

With the Left parties expressing concern over the previous government’s “pro-US” tilt, the section on foreign policy underlines that the UPA government would pursue “an independent foreign policy” which will “promote multi-polarity in world relations and oppose all attempts at unilaterism.”

The document has, however, done a neat balancing act on the issue of privatisation and disinvestment of public sector undertakings. The Left parties suggestion that the disinvestment ministry be wound up has been accepted. But it would now function as a department in the Finance Ministry, Dr. Singh said, adding that unlike the previous government, their disinvestment procedures would be far more transparent. In other words, the nomenclature might change but the process of disinvestment will not halt.

On the issue of disinvestment and privatisation of the public sector, the drafting skills of CMP’s authors have ensured that there is room for manoeuvre. This was evident when the Prime Minister maintained that “normally, profit-making public sector companies” would not be privatised.

The CMP maintains that all privatisation will be considered on a “transparent and consultative case-by-case basis.” It also states that the UPA will retain existing “navratna” companies in the public sector though they would be allowed to raise resources from the capital market. Dr. Singh explained that if a company is making profits because of a monopolistic conditions, then disinvestment could not be ruled out.

Since all the UPA partners and the Left parties are agreed on according priority to the agriculture sector and reducing unemployment, the CMP has made a series of commitments towards generating employment and improving the well-being of farmers, farm labour and workers. The CMP has promised to enact a National Employment Guarantee Act and ensure that the economy grows at least 7-8 per cent every year.

The Prime Minister maintained that since the agriculture sector had been neglected in recent years, the UPA government would give it focussed attention through greater public investment in rural infrastructure and irrigation, improved rural cooperative credit system and more effective crop and livestock insurance schemes. He reiterated the new government’s commitment to economic reforms with a human face.


Ban on Iraq recruitments

New Delhi, May 27
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government will impose a ban on the recruitment of Indian mercenaries for Iraq and will take steps to withdraw those already working in the war-torn country.

This has been stated in the UPA’s Agenda for Governance released here today by leaders of the ruling coalition and the Left parties.

The step is being taken in the wake of reports of killings of some Indians as well as the hardships being faced by many others after they were taken to the embattled nation while they were promised lucrative jobs in neighbouring Kuwait. — UNI

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