In a show of support for former Sebi chairman CB Bhave and former member KM Abraham, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia called for restraint on the part of investigative agencies while investigating retired officials.
“The morale of the bureaucracy is broke. Impropriety is one thing but unleashing the Central Vigilance Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation years after they (officials) have retired is totally unacceptable,” said Parekh.
Speaking at the 35th Skoch Summit on Saturday, the eminent banker, who was among the first corporate sector voices that highlighted the UPA government’s “policy paralysis” in 2012, stressed that restoring the confidence of the bureaucracy is crucial for improving the state of the country’s governance.
“How can anyone perform in such a system? If fear is there, how can there be decisions?” he said, pointing out that bureaucrats are often scared to sign on decisions. Bhave and Abraham are facing an investigation after the CBI filed a Preliminary Enquiry against them for alleged irregularities in granting of licence to MCX Stock Exchange in 2008 and also for extending it subsequently.
Ahluwalia, in his speech, also vouched for the integrity of Bhave and Abraham and said the government should review the procedure for investigating retired officials for actions taken during their term in office. “By reputation, they are officials of terrific integrity,” he said while declining to comment on the specific case. “The investigating agency is not charging them with anything, they are just enquiring. But the enquiry should be done quickly and not drag on for years,” he said. While pointing out that agencies do not require permission from the government for investigating retired officials, Ahluwalia said, “We may have to look at it. But the public doesn’t like such moves.”
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Meanwhile, calling for better governance, Parekh underlined the need for stability in investment climate. “There should not be any constant flip-flops in policies,” he said. He also expressed confidence that the country’s economy could see a revival in the next fiscal. In a reference to macro-economic data such as the current account deficit, inflation rate and fiscal deficit, Parekh said, “There is sufficient evidence to point that India is on a firmer footing that six to eight months ago…. India is no longer as fragile.”
The economy is expected to grow at 4.9 per cent during FY14 but the government is hoping for a revival of the economy that will take GDP growth to 6 per cent in FY 15. While pegging the country’s GDP growth at 4.6 per cent for FY14, the International Monetary Fund has estimated the growth rate of the economy at 5.4 per cent next fiscal.
Laying out the agenda for the next government, Parekh said, “Irrespective of who forms the next government, the economic agenda is set and the pace of reforms will be faster.” He also stressed that the government will have to look at improving standard of education, skill development and more job opportunities. “The India of today wants education, opportunities and growth instead of sops and subsidies,” he said.