Special Correspondent

Thomas Isaac says bottlenecks hamper efforts in this direction

Says changes have not reflected

at top level

‘Administrative machinery facing huge challenges’

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Despite the major strides it has made in democratic decentralisation, Kerala has still not succeeded in institutionalising decentralised governance, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said in the Assembly on Friday.

Responding to a calling attention motion from T.N. Prathapan (Congress), Dr. Isaac said much remained to be done to make decentralisation really meaningful to the ordinary people and conceded that serious bottlenecks hampered efforts in this direction. It was not that the government did not know what to do. It was in possession of detailed reports from three Administrative Reforms Commissions, besides specific suggestions regarding decentralisation of governance.

However, it could not move forward on account of several factors, he said.

Dr. Isaac said decentralisation would become meaningful only if the manuals and rules were changed, employees were redeployed, e-governance adopted on a wide scale and the State Secretariat service subjected to fundamental reforms. Much remained to be done in all these areas. The least work had been done in revamping the Secretariat.

The changes that had come about at the grassroots were yet to be reflected at the top level.

The powers and functions of heads of departments and officers at various levels were yet to be redefined. Equally important was the need for retraining the employees and steps to tone up service delivery and check corruption, he said.

Dr. Isaac said the State’s administrative machinery, created to serve a welfare government, was facing huge challenges when asked to look after infrastructure development and industrialisation. The government could hope to effect changes in the current situation only after holding discussions with representatives of the employees and political parties. The government had put in place adequate software to monitor file movement and it would now strive to create at least one model office in each taluk in the State, Dr. Isaac said.

Earlier, Mr. Prathapan called for urgent steps to modernise the State civil service by accelerating the decentralisation process and restructuring the file monitoring system.