M A I N   N E W S

Ministers set to lose discretionary powers
Law Ministry giving final shape to GoM suggestions: Pranab

New Delhi, July 30
A wide range of discretionary powers enjoyed by ministers at the Centre are being abolished, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee disclosed here today.

Mukherjee, who chaired a Group of Ministers (GoM) on dealing with corruption, said that the group had submitted its recommendations, which were now being processed for implementation by the Ministry of Law and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). He also defended the government’s decision of not bringing the Prime Minister under the Lokpal.

The powers of ministers that are being abolished include discretionary funds at the hands of some ministries like the Social Welfare Ministry, he told PTI.

Discretionary allotment of gas pumps and issue of gas coupons have already been done away with.

However, he clarified that the quota of the Government of India in medical seats for students from countries like Bhutan and Nepal and appointments of non-official directors of banks did not not fall under the discretionary powers of ministers but collective decision making of the government through the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Pranab Mukherjee said court cases and departmental proceedings against corrupt public servants would be fast tracked, and cases for sanction of their prosecution will be decided within three months. Mukherjee, who had chaired the joint drafting committee with Anna Hazare's team, said bringing the Prime Minister under the Lokpal would have resulted in "institutionalised permanent instability" at the Centre.

“In this time of frenzy, anybody can write to the Lokpal and make a complaint. If the Lokpal prima facie sees merit in it...the Prime Minister will have to resign. "The Prime Minister is the keystone in our system and if he goes, then the entire government goes. This way you will institutionalise permanent instability,” he said.

He recalled that BJP had wanted a fixed tenure for the Lok Sabha without mid-term dissolution in the wake of three general elections in three years between 1996 and 1999. — PTI

Black money info pouring in

New Delhi: Details of assets and payments received by Indian citizens in several countries have ‘started flowing in’ and are being investigated, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday. Information about wealth stashed away in Swiss banks by Indians is expected by the government before the end of the year, he indicated. He said that India had signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty with Switzerland. The treaty is likely to be ratified by the Swiss by September and information about tax avoidance should be available thereafter.





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