New Delhi, Dec 31: Amid a war of words between government and Opposition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said it was “unfortunate” that the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill could not be passed by the Rajya Sabha and asserted that the government was committed to an effective anti-corruption law.
Wishing to put behind a “very difficult” year, Singh acknowledged that the concern about corruption has moved to the centre stage and vowed to personally work to provide an “honest and more efficient government”.
In his New Year message to the nation, he noted that corruption was a serious problem that needs multi-dimensional response of which Lokpal and Lokayuktas are an important part but it will take time to have full effect of the initiatives.
“The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha. It is unfortunate that the Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha. However, our government is committed to the enactment of an effective Lokpal Act,” he said.
In the nine-page message which gave an overview of a host of subjects like economic situation, food security, national security, ecological security and social issues, Singh said, “I believe we have made more progress than is commonly realised.”
The government has taken several “transformational” initiatives to tackle corruption which will be “recognised as such down the line”, he said.
In this context, he listed introduction of Bills on Citizen's Charter and Judicial Accountability in Parliament. “These initiatives will take time to have full effect and we must, therefore, be patient,” he counselled.
He termed corruption as a “serious problem” which calls for a multi-dimensional response. “New institutions such as Lokpal and Lokayuktas are an important part of the solution and we have initiated the process for establishing them.”
Underlining that Lokpal and Lokayuktas were “only one part of the solution”, the Prime Minister said, “we also need reforms in systems of governance which would increase transparency and minimise discretion so that the scope of misgovernance is reduced.”
Singh said, “The year that has just ended was a very difficult year for the world” and in this regard cited the economic crisis, socio economic tensions, “political upheavals in many developing countries” and “a revolution of rising expectations fostered by the extraordinary reach of the electronic media and the connectivity provided by new social networking platforms.”
These issues kept governments around the world “on their toes”, he said, adding that “we in India have had our share of problems.”
Talking in the context of India specifically, Singh said the economy slowed down, inflation edged up and “concern about corruption moved to the centre stage”.
Counselling against despondency, he said, “we must address the new concerns that have arisen while remaining steadfast in our commitment to put the nation on a development path which ensures rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth.
“I want to assure you all on this New Year's day that I personally will work to provide an honest and more efficient government, a more productive, competitive and robust economy and a more equitable and just social and political order.”
Singh, who was one of the architects of liberalisation initiated in 1991, said that process was aimed at freeing the citizens from the “dead weight” of bureaucracy and corruption.
“...Old forms of corruption have vanished, new forms of corruption have emerged which need to be tackled. Elimination of corruption is critical to support genuine entrepreneurship,” he said, adding “It is also the demand of the ordinary citizen who encounters corruption all too often in everyday transactions with those in authority.”