Government to undertake scrutiny of ADB-funded Modernising Government Programme

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Assembly today discussed the report of the Estimates Committee of the House which highlighted the lack of accountability in the implementation of Modernising Government Programme (MGP) funded by Asian Development Bank between 2002 and 2008.

This is the second time in the history of the House that a committee report is discussed in the House. The report was submitted to the House in December 2014 by committee of the last legislative Assembly headed by Mr. V. D. Satheesan (Congress).

Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan, who spoke at the end of the debate, said that the government would undertake a detailed scrutiny of implementation of the programme. The implementation had lacked transparency and accountability. No monitoring or auditing of the programme had taken place.

The Chief Minister recalled that the ADP funded project had invited widespread protests in the House. There was debate whether the terms of the loan were in the interests of the State.  It had invited a strike by government employees over issues such as voluntary retirement, pension scheme and contract appointments proposed under the project.

The Antony government had taken up the programme in 2002 and the LDF government that came to power in 2006 had wound up the programme. The LDF government also proposed alternate policies.

Mr. Vijjayan added that it was important to improve the administration and the government would take initiatives to modernise the administration. The administration would be made people-friendly through measures including e-governance. Movement of files would be speed up.

He reiterated that the government proposed to form a State Civil Service cadre. Out-dated laws would be repealed.

Mr. V. D. Satheesan said that the committee’s findings were shocking.  The project had not been reviewed or audited and files were missing. Of Rs. 1148 crore obtained as loan, Rs. 536 crore was spent for modernising government. However, the details were not available. Documents relating to the use of the loans funds and repayment were not available.

Mr. K. C. Joseph (Congress), who had given notice for the discussion, said that the programme had failed to bring about modernisation. This was regrettable.

He recalled that many of the recommendations of various administrative reforms commissions, set up in the past, had remained unimplemented.  The approach to administration needed to change with times. However, the present government had appointed another administrative reforms commission just to accommodate veteran CPI (M) leader V. S. Achuthanandan as chairman. Two retired chief cecretaries were its members.  The commission was defunct even before it started functioning.

Mr. E. T. Taison Master (CPI) said that the committee had failed to get satisfactory replies to its queries. This was a reflection on the previous government.

Mr. K. Krishnankutty (Janata Dal-S) said that important reports of house committees such as those on Mullaperiyar, police and electricity were gathering dust.

Mr. M. Ummer (Muslim League) noted that Rs. 536 crore of the loan was used to cover revenue deficit of Power Department. None were shouldering responsibility for the programme.

T. V. Rajesh (CPI-M) said that the report showed that MGP was a failure. It could not make any impact on governance.  As of today, about 3 lakh files were pending at the Secretariat and other government offices.

For further reading:

No proper accounts for ADB loan spending