Comes even as Ministry is working on a draft bill on comprehensive electoral reforms

The Group of Ministers (GoM) meant to consider measures to tackle corruption has directed the Ministry of Law to formulate concrete proposals on Constitutional and statutory amendments needed to consider feasibility of State funding of elections.

The GoM headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is mandated to look at a range of policy initiatives and action required to address corruption. In its first report in September, the GoM had made several recommendations on fast-tracking of cases relating to corruption against public servants.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Personnel , the GoM at its recent meeting also accepted most of the recommendations of an expert Committee chaired by Ashok Chawla on actions required for enhancing transparency and sustainability in utilisation of natural resources. The direction of the GoM to the Law Ministry on State funding of elections has come even as the Ministry is in the process of preparing a draft bill on comprehensive electoral reforms.

The issue of State funding of elections has been considered at various levels several times but has never been followed to its logical end due to lack of consensus within and outside the government on the feasibility of the measure from the financial and other aspects.

The Chawla Expert Committee on Allocation of Natural Resources had identified natural resources such as coal, minerals, petroleum, natural gas, spectrum, forests, water and land where the government has a major role to play in articulating the policy framework or otherwise influencing the manner of their allocation.

Regulatory framework

It has looked at the efficacy and suitability of existing legal and regulatory framework and rules being employed in the allocation processes and recommended measures for enhancing their sustainability and improving transparency and effectiveness of the processes.

Among the key recommendations of the Committee include standardising the format of minutes for all Standing Linkage Committee (Long-Term) meetings, particularly for meetings where allocation decisions are made; the creation of a National Data Repository for petroleum exploration; future telecom licences as unified licences and spectrum de-linked from the licence and improving the predictability and reducing the time taken for clearances.

It has recommended a comprehensive national legislation to deal with all water-related issues; inventory of the land available with the Union government and all dealings through competitive and transparent e-auctions.

  • Pranab-headed GoM mandated to look at policy initiatives and action to tackle corruption
  • GoM okayed most proposals of Chawla panel for transparency in utilising natural resources