Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said the creation of the Lokpal as an institution would help tackle corruption, but would not solve the problem.
He pointed out that a comprehensive restructuring of the government system and procedures was necessary for cleaning up the system. “Clean it up we must,” he said, noting that some areas, such as government discretion in allocation of scarce resources, led to corruption.
Delivering his address at the golden jubilee of the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta at Joka near here, Dr. Singh said there was no single solution to the problem and there was need to act on multiple fronts. “The complexity of the task is not adequately appreciated,” he said.
He reiterated that the government was open to a reasoned debate. “It has long been argued that we need an institution like the Lokpal. We have introduced a Bill in Parliament, which is now before the Standing Committee. There are differences of opinion on details of the Bill. We have made it clear that all concerned individuals should convey their concern on different aspects of the Bill to their representatives in Parliament and to the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee has the power to propose any amendment. We are open to a reasoned debate on all these issues,” Dr. Singh said.
Emphasising the need for finding a systemic solution, the Prime Minister exhorted the IIM fraternity to come forward. “As managers, you can contribute to the process by suggesting mechanisms that would create transparency,” he said. He stressed the need to strengthen the regulatory framework and its technical capacity, saying that many of the recent controversies that had arisen were due to the inadequacies of regulatory institutions. He stressed the need for judicial reforms.
Dr. Singh said there was need to thoroughly revamp government procedures to reduce discretion and to make decision-making as transparent as possible.
“Many countries have a law to govern government procurement. We propose to introduce legislation along these lines. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law has recently modified its earlier model procurement law. We can benefit from this latest “model law” and internalise best international practices. I would urge State governments to do the same,” he said.
Rejecting the arguments by some that economic liberalisation had ushered in corruption, he said: “This is completely mistaken.” Reforms such as abolition of licensing eliminated corruption. Dr. Singh said the aam aadmi faced corruption when he had to pay a bribe to facilitate ordinary transactions with government. Beneficiaries of government programmes faced corruption when those in charge of implementation misappropriated funds.