Finance Minister Manish Sisodia’s plan to hold a ‘Facebook Live’ event ahead of the GST council meeting met resistance from an unexpected quarter, when the Directorate of Information & Publicity (DIP) claimed that an “open tender” was required to hold the event. Stating that it “lacked technical competence and specialisation” for such a “social media campaign”, the DIP said that it had no “other option” but to deny the request.
Sisodia then wrote to the Chief Secretary, expressing his “surprise at the audacity” of the officials. He also issued orders that a second Facebook Live event be held on June 5, or the officers be removed. The AAP organised Thursday’s Facebook event, sources said.
A government source said, “The entire situation is ridiculous. For a Facebook Live, you need to log onto Facebook through a phone, any phone, and then press ‘Live Video’ on the news feed. You write something about the feed and that is it. How do open tenders come in? And if this is a case of incompetence, then how incompetent are they really?”
The Delhi government passed the GST bill in the Assembly on Wednesday. While the minister has met at least 32 trade associations, the Facebook Live event was to get a “better grasp of what common people and small traders” in Delhi want, sources in the ministry said.
The first letter to the DIP from Sisodia was sent on May 26, followed by another on May 30. “In both letters, the Finance Minister explained the need for the event to the DIP, while ordering them to organise it before the GST council meeting on June 3,” a source said.
Responding to the second letter, senior officials from the DIP wrote back: “It is submitted that no such specialised agency is available with the DIP.”
Additional notes made by a senior officer of the DIP on the letter added that the “time indicated to start the campaign is unrealistic, as at least one month period will be required for completion” of Facebook Live through “open tender”.
The DIP concluded in the letter to Sisodia that they were left with “no other option” but to convey that they couldn’t complete the “work for the scheduled period”.
Earlier this week, Sisodia had said “GST is India’s most important tax reform and our responsibility is to represent Delhi and its people… There are problems in the GST’s implementation that could lead to a disaster.
He also said for the benefit of residents of Delhi and small traders, the need was to focus on “lowering the tax rate” to “increase compliance”.