Govt has moved forward in curbing graft: PM

Addressing the Conference of Chief Secretaries, the Prime Minister also expressed confidence that a strong Lokpal law would be enacted soon.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on Friday said government has moved "substantially forward" in
curbing corruption and improving public services delivery
system but acknowledged there is "still a long way" to go to
ensure transparency, accountability and probity in public

Addressing the Conference of Chief Secretaries, the
Prime Minister also expressed confidence that a strong Lokpal
law would be enacted soon.

Singh recalled that last year he had emphasised the need
for a systemic response that reduced opportunities for
corruption in public life and had stated that his government
was committed to taking all legal and administrative measures
to curb the menace.

"I had also said that we should make full use of advances
in modern technology to improve the delivery of our public
services system. We have moved substantially forward in these
areas in the last one year," he said.

The Prime Minister cited the Citizen`s Charter and the
Electronic Delivery of Services bills introduced in Parliament
last year as examples.

Noting that "unfortunately, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas
Bills could not be passed in the last session of Parliament",
Singh said he does hope that the government "would soon be
able to enact a strong Lokpal law".

The Prime Minister also referred to the government`s plan
to frame a law for regulating public procurement, implementing
national e-governance plan and providing `Aadhar` numbers.

"All this builds upon our earlier initiatives such as the
Right to Information Act, the Judicial Accountability Bill and
the Whistle Blowers Bill. But, we still have a long way to go
in our efforts for ensuring transparency, accountability and
probity in public life," he said.

Hailing as "creditable" the growth rate of the country`s
economy at the rate of 8.4 per cent in the backdrop of a
crisis-ridden world economy, Singh said that the growth in the
current financial year is, however, likely to be lower between
7 to 7.5 per cent in a large measure due to the continuing
uncertainty in the global economic environment.

While noting that inflation was a persistent problem
during the course of last year, particularly with regard
to food items, the Prime Minister said the government took
several measures to ease supply constraints that were a cause
for rising prices.

"This coupled with the policy of monetary tightening that
the Reserve Bank adopted has led to a continuous decrease in
inflationary pressure in primary food articles in recent

"The overall inflation has also eased. But, monetary
tightening together with a difficult global economic
environment, particularly the lingering Euro Zone crisis, has
impacted the rate of growth adversely", he said.

Singh said that the key to controlling inflation in food
articles on a sustainable basis lay in increasing agricultural
production and productivity in which the "state governments
have a crucial role to play".

He also urged states to give more attention to areas such
as modernisation of agricultural research and agricultural
extension system, public investment in agriculture, and reform
of the agricultural marketing system and practices.

The Prime Minister felt there was a need to review and
amend the Agriculture Produce Marketing Act to enable farmers
to bring their products to retail outlets and also allow
retailers to directly purchase from the farmers.

He said this would bring better remuneration to farmers,
check wastage and allow competitive prices to prevail in
retail markets.