Contents

  1. First Call
  2. Six years on, Lokpal is a non­starter 
  3. The difference between private and government Bills in Parliament
  4. Shunning fiscal adventurism

FIRST CALL

  • Sri Lanka’s new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, visited India in November, and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, after a five-day tour, visited India.
  • Joint India-Japan proposal for the East Container Terminal at Colombo.
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa has also discussed extending the $400-million Line of Credit and India’s further assistance for nationwide housing.

SIX YEARS ON LOKPAL IS A NONSTARTER

  • The massive public campaign in 2011 demanding an independent anti-corruption ombudsman resulted in the passage of the Lokpal law. 
  • The preambular statement of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 notes that the law has been enacted to ensure prompt and fair investigation and prosecution in cases of corruption against public servants. The Lokpal was envisioned to be independent

Delay in appointments:

  • After more than five years, the chairperson and members of the Lokpal were recently appointed.
  • The government claimed that since no one could be recognised as the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) after the 2014 general election, the committee responsible for selecting members of the Lokpal could not be constituted. 
  • In order to ensure independent and credible action on allegations of corruption, the Lokpal was empowered under the law to set up its own inquiry wing headed by a Director of Inquiry and its own prosecution wing headed by a Director of Prosecution. 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRIVATE AND GOVERNMENT BILLS IN PARLIAMENT

  • While a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day, a private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays.
  • A private member’s Bill is different from a government Bill and is piloted by an MP who is not a minister
  • Individual MPs may introduce private member’s Bill to draw the government’s attention to what they might see as issues requiring legislative intervention.
  • he admissibility of a private Bill is decided by the Chairman in the case of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker in the case of the Lok Sabha
  • Before the Bill can be listed for introduction, the Member must give at least a month’s notice, for the House Secretariat to examine it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation
  • As per PRS Legislative, no private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956.

SHUNNING FISCAL ADVENTURISM

  • In the run-up to the budget, there was enormous pressure on the finance minister to launch a fiscal stimulus so as to pump-prime the economy
  • There is already considerable stimulus in the system.
  • The finance minister took a step towards transparency by admitting to off-balance sheet borrowings of 0.8 per cent of GDP for both the current and next fiscal year — acknowledging that the fiscal deficit would actually be higher at 4.6 per cent and 4.3 per cent of GDP respectively
  • Fiscal pressures will undermine the Reserve Bank of India’s struggle to revive investment by bringing down long-term interest rates
  •  It could result in a sovereign ratings downgrade and jeopardise efforts to attract foreign capital.
  • Can also stoke inflationary pressures
  • As much as the headline fiscal deficit numbers are a cause for concern, the underlying quality of fiscal consolidation is a bigger concern
  • Revenue deficit is actually going up
  • More than two-thirds of what the government is borrowing is going to finance current expenditures like salaries, pensions, interest payments and subsidies
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