Without reforms, India risk a sharp and continuing slowdown of the economy which it cannot afford given the imperative need to generate jobs and incomes for a large population, most of whom are young, says the Finance Minister
New Delhi: Cautioning that absence of economic reforms will slow down growth, Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said political parties may oppose but should not obstruct decision making, reports PTI.
"Every government is entitled to lay down policies. Opposition to policies is legitimate, obstructionism is not," Chidambaram said while addressing the annual Economic Editors' Conference.
"The government of the day must be allowed to lay down policies, pass legislations wherever necessary, and get on with the job of implementing those policies," he added.
Noting that these were challenging times, the Minister said, "Without reforms, we risk a sharp and continuing slowdown of the economy which we cannot afford given the imperative need to generate jobs and incomes for a large population, most of whom are young."
India's economic growth during 2011-12 slipped to nine- year low of 6.5% and during the first quarter of the current fiscal it was 5.5%.
Expressing confidence that with requisite savings and investments India's economic growth rate will recover to 8% and more, and perhaps touch 9%, the Minister said, "We should keep that rate of growth as our objective and progress towards achieving that objective."
Indian government recently took host of reform initiatives but steps like hiking foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in insurance and pension to 49% would require legislative changes, which would not be possible without the support of main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Long standing structural reforms required to achieve high investment and high growth rates have been held back because of many reasons.
"Among them are...the need to forge a consensus on reforms, the practical necessity to garner support across the political spectrum to pass legislation... Nevertheless we are now addressing the difficult areas of reforms", he added.
Referring to the government decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, Chidambaram said, "We must not fear foreign investments in India. We have the sovereign right to decide where and how foreign investments would be allowed into India."
The decisions to allow foreign investment should not be tested on the basis of undefined ideology or theory, but on a clear-headed assessment of the advantages that would accrue to India, he said.
"I have no doubt...FDI in retail, aviation and FM radio broadcasting are decisions that will benefit the economy and the country," he added.
Chidambaram also underlined the need for containing inflation and said that appreciating value of the rupee would help in brining down the cost of imported crude, petroleum products and fertilisers.
"The value of rupee is an important factor that effects the value of imports. A depreciating rupee will also impact trade and investment. Hence, the need to stabilise the exchange rate. I believe that we have met with moderate success," the Minister said.
The rupee, which touched 57.22 to a dollar on 27 June 2012, has gradually appreciated to 52.13.
The other important task before the government was to contain fiscal deficit, he said, adding, "no one will have confidence in the Indian economy if there is uncertainty about the fiscal stability of the country".
As regards the Kelkar Committee on fiscal consolidation, the Minister said that it has presented the worst-case scenario and it was the duty of the government to take steps to avoid that and "do every thing possible to contain deficits".
The government, Chidambaram added, will shortly announce a fiscal consolidation programme based on the feedback on the Kelkar Committee report.
Relative grading of the ACRs no longer remains personal information and should be disclosed as it forms the very basis for the promotion of an individual officer, ruled the CIC under the RTI Act
New Delhi: The relative grading of officers' annual confidential reports (ACRs) during their promotion is not personal information and should be made public, the Central Information Commission has held, reports PTT.
Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said although the annual confidential reports or ACRs of an officer are personal information which should be disclosed only to him or her, its relative grading during promotion process should be made public.
"Since the relative grading of the ACRs is the basis for recommending a certain officer for promotion, this needs to be disclosed just as the caste certificate of a public servant needs to be disclosed since that serves as the basis for his appointment to the government service," Mishra said.
The case relates to an RTI application filed by Madhu Khare of Bhopal who sought to know from the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) the grading chart of select list of 2001-02 for promotion from Madhya Pradesh Administrative Service to Indian Administrative Services (IAS).
The UPSC objected to disclosure of the chart claiming that it contained the grading based on the ACRs and to that extent, the disclosure of this information would amount to the disclosure of personal information of other officers.
"In the present case, the appellant had not sought the copies of the ACRs. She has only wanted to know the manner in which the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) evaluated and assessed the individual ACRs of the officers and arrived at the grading in each case," Mishra said.
He said mere disclosure of the final relative grading will not help.
"Without the entire chart showing the complete assessment of every officer, it will not be clear how the officers have been assessed in a related matrix," he said.
Mishra said it is without doubt that the relative grading of the ACRs is an important input in the final decision of the DPC in recommending some officers for promotion while leaving out others.
"As held by us in several similar cases in the past, in any examination or evaluation process, certain details about the successful or recommended candidates must be disclosed in order to ensure transparency in the selection process," the CIC said.
He said therefor the relative grading of the ACRs "no longer remains personal information" and should be disclosed as it forms the very basis for the promotion of an individual officer.
"In the light of the above, we are of the view that the desired information, namely, the complete chart of the grading of the ACRs of the officers as assessed and evaluated by the DPC and recommended for promotion must be disclosed," the Chief Information Commissioner said.
According to the Finance Minister, private transactions cannot and ought not to be allowed to be questioned on the basis of imputations and insinuations
New Delhi: Ruling out any probe into business dealings between Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty major DLF, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said the government cannot look into private transactions unless there are specific allegations of corruption, reports PTI.
"...unless there is a specific allegation of quid pro quo or corruption, I am afraid private transactions cannot and ought not to be allowed to be questioned on the basis of imputations and insinuations", he said while responding to a question on the Vadra-DLF deals at the Economic Editors' Conference here.
Civil rights activist Arvind Kejriwal had demanded an inquiry into business dealings between Vadra and his companies and real estate giant DLF.
Kejriwal had alleged that DLF gave interest free loan of Rs65 crore to Vadra. The company as well as Vadra had denied the allegations.
Chidambaram said he "could not respond (on the issue) on behalf of the government because that is not the issue here. I think those who made their allegations have made their statement, the company concerned has made a statement and the individual concerned has made a statement".
Vadra had earlier dismissed Kejriwal's allegations as "utterly false and defamatory" saying that his business transactions were "fully reflected" in financial statements before government authorities in compliance with the law.
DLF too had rejected the allegations that it had given unsecured loans to Vadra as a 'quid pro quo' for favours and said it had transparent dealing with him as an individual entrepreneur.
Kejriwal had alleged that besides an interest free loan of Rs65 crore, DLF gave properties worth Rs300 crore to Vadra at throwaway prices.