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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

UPA banks on reforms to tackle public ire on graft

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 05, 2013
First Published: 23:59 IST(5/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:38 IST(6/5/2013)

Even as it battles one after another corruption charges, the Congress now  is banking on its track record in pursuing reforms-both social and economic-to revive public perception ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

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The UPA government's upcoming 'Report to the People' will highlight a list of initiatives to show the commitment of the Congress-led government towards reforms. Besides this, the party's manifesto for 2014 election will also flag reforms as a key tool to curb corruption.

While the graft charges in the railway ministry have come as the latest damper for the Manmohan Singh government, the Prime Minister maintains that the economic reform is the only tool to eradicate corruption. Earlier, he had highlighted how discretionary powers that encourage corruption needs to be slashed through reforms.

Now, a primary note prepared by key party strategists speak on how the "telecom spectrum mess has been resolved, auction have started and the telecom industry is reviving". On its most ambitious Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, the note says: "the DBT system will gradually control fraud and diversion through better targeting."

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The Congress will also highlight the push for financial inclusion aimed to uplift the poor and backward areas, de-control of sugar prices and of course, opening the FDI floodgates to boost the economy to reach "at least 9% growth by 2017".

While the note says that procurement law brings greater transparency in government buying, it also emphasizes on how the Congress-led UPA government eased avenues of investments by clearing hurdles in environment clearances, setting up of Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure for fast-tracking proposals, etc.

The party's plan comes at a time when several key reforms bills are stalled in parliament in want of support from the Opposition quarters. But the Congress may point out that the government had done its bit by approving the proposals in the cabinet.

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