Amid continued attack on the government over corruption, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday acknowledged that the efforts to ensure transparency, accountability and probity in public life would take a long time.

Addressing a conference of Chief Secretaries in New Delhi, Dr. Singh cited a number of initiatives taken by the government to rid the country of corruption and said these had moved “substantially forward” over the last one year.

“But, we still have a long way to go in our efforts for ensuring transparency, accountability and probity in public life,” he said.

To achieve these goals, he said, the Centre and states needed to work together.

The statement assumes significance as it comes amidst persistent attack on the government over corruption. The government on Thursday faced huge embarrassment when the Supreme Court cancelled all the 122 licences for 2G spectrum allocated in 2008 as these were held illegal.

Dr. Singh recalled that last year, while addressing the conference, 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”, Dr. 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.

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