Govt highlights steps taken against corruption

New Delhi: Ahead of the indefinite fast by Anna Hazare and his team, the government today highlighted the slew of measures taken by it over the last one year to tackle corruption which include curbing the discretionary powers of ministers and time-bound decisions on prosecution requests.

The measures also include bringing about transparency in delivery of services besides the passage of Lokpal Bill and Protection of Whistle-blowers` Bill by the Lok Sabha. According to the data compiled by the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) on anti-corruption steps, the government has directed that requests for sanction of prosecution should be decided upon by the competent authority within a period of three months.

It was based on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up in January 2011 to consider measures to tackle corruption which submitted two reports. The government also decided that for all officers of the central government above the rank of Joint Secretary, the competent authority to approve initiation of enquiry/ investigation under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act will be the Minister-in-charge in the government.

The recommendation of the GoM to put in place regulatory parameters for exercise of discretionary powers by ministers and to place them in public domain was also accepted. The data was released on the eve of the indefinite fast by Hazare and his team to press for concrete steps by government against corruption and action against some ministers whom they accuse of graft.

The data also refers to the passage of a comprehensive Lokpal and Lakyuktas Bill, 2011 and the Whistle-blowers` Protection Bill 2011 by the Lok Sabha. Both these legislations are at present with the Rajya Sabha. With an aim of making all government services accessible to common man with transparency, the National e-Governance Plan was approved under which a network of more than 1,00,000 Common Service Centres for electronic delivery of public services to citizens in rural areas has been rolled out.

Pilots for delivering high-volume, citizen-centric e-governance services have been implemented in 88 districts across seven states under the e-District Project. The e-governance project for facilitating business by simplifying and reducing documentation was carried forward by enabling online allotment of the Direct Identification Number and integrating it with the Income Tax PAN. This will substantially reduce delays in incorporation of a company, official sources said.

The data noted that a record 15 lakh annual reports were filed during the year with a peak of 70,000 filings on a single day. Rules have also been amended to facilitate payments by direct credit to the bank accounts of payees, it said, adding a secured electronic payment system, through "Government e-payment gateway" has been commissioned to facilitate this process.

This measure will streamline the process of making payments, minimises the interface of the payees with government offices and will usher in green banking, they said. With regard to efforts to bring about transparency in public procurement system, a bill has been approved by the Cabinet which seeks to regulate public procurement by all ministries and departments of the central government, central public sector enterprises and bodies controlled by the central government.

It is to ensure transparency, fair and equitable treatment of bidders, promoting competition and enhancing efficiency and economy in the procurement process. The Bill would create a statutory framework for public procurement which will provide greater accountability, transparency and enforceability of the regulatory framework.