M A I N   N E W S

Govt to combat inflation on a war-footing: President
Stresses on govt’s resolve to tackle black money menace
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
Grappling with grave charges of corruption and wrongdoing which have dented its image, the UPA government promised to address the concern regarding the lack of probity and integrity in public life and combat inflation on a war-footing in the Presidential address to the joint session of Parliament that began today.

“Our citizens deserve good governance; it is their entitlement and our obligation. My government stands committee to improving the quality of governance and enhancing transparency, probity and integrity in public life,’’ President Pratiba Patil said, kick-starting the crucial Budget session at the Central hall of Parliament.

With the 2-G Spectrum scandal obviously at the back of her mind, she said a Group of Ministers (GoM) was considering all measures, including legislative and administrative, to tackle corruption and improve transparency. “The Group will consider issues relating to the formulation of a public procurement policy and enunciation of public procurement standards, review and abolition of discretionary powers enjoyed by ministers, introduction of an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources, fast tracking of cases against public servants charged with corruption, and amendments to the relevant laws to facilitate quicker action against public servants,’’ she added.

The GoM, whose report was expected soon, would also consider issues relating to the state funding of elections. A bill to protect whistleblowers has been introduced in Parliament. The government has also decided to ratify the UN convention against corruption.

In her nearly 45-minute address, the President also called for electoral reforms. In this connection, she also referred to the constitution of a committee by the government to fast track the process of electoral reforms.

Referring to the menace of black money, the President noted that the issue has attracted a lot of attention in the recent past, especially the money stashed away in foreign banks. She expressed the government’s resolve to tackle the menace. It required diligent, sustained effort by law enforcement agencies, including those of state governments.

The government has taken steps to facilitate exchange of information for tax purposes with countries and entities where Indian citizens might have parked their money. The government would spare no effort in bringing back to India what belonged to the country and to bring the guilty to book.

Talking at length about the runaway inflation, she said the government was concerned about its adverse impact on the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man) and the threat it posed to the growth momentum. She listed the steps that the government has taken in recent days to bring down the prices of essential commodities, particularly edible oils, pulses, vegetables, wheat and rice.

Pointing out that inflation had been declining until November when unseasonal rains in some states led to a spurt in vegetable prices, Patil said a long term solution lay in increasing productivity and production.

Emphasising that farmers must get remunerative prices for their produce, she said the government was committed to bringing forward a food security law that would entitle statutorily every family, below the poverty line to foodgrains at highly subsidised prices.

On the law and order front, Patil said the internal security scenario had largely been under control though terrorism, fundamentalism, ethnic violence and left wing extremism continued to pose major challenges. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved and intensive engagement with various groups in the North-East has largely reduced violence in those states.

The government, she said, was taking all necessary measure to transform the armed forces into a modern force equipped to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.

Regarding the foreign policy, Patil said India sought a peaceful resolution of issues with Pakistan through a meaningful dialogue so long as Islamabad did not allow the Pakistani soil to be used for terrorist activities against India.





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