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Corruption striking at roots of good governance

New Delhi: With his government under attack over various scams, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today spoke out against corruption, saying that it strikes at the roots of good governance, dents the country`s international image and "demeans us before our own people".

"This is a challenge which has to be faced frontally, boldly and quickly," he said addressing the annual conference of chief secretaries of states here.

He said, "Corruption strikes at the roots of good governance. It is an impediment to faster growth. It dilutes, if not negates, our efforts at social inclusion.

"It dents our international image and it demeans us before our own people," Singh said.

Referring to the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee and set up recently to look into all measures, legal or administrative, to tackle the menace, he said two bills have already been introduced in Parliament relating to judicial accountability and the protection of whistle blowers.

"Along with legislation, the necessary revamp of administrative practises and procedures needs to be fast-tracked. A systemic response that reduces opportunities for corruption needs to be put in place," Singh said.

Serious concern has been expressed in many responsible circles about the lack of ethical conduct and probity in public life, he said.

The Prime Minister said that the introduction of competition, greater choice and modern technology could cut down the opportunities for corruption in a very meaningful manner.

Delays, another major cause, could be addressed to a large extent by effective decentralisation and delegation of power and responsibility, he said while seeking the support of top bureaucrats in bringing about vast improvements in governance.

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