Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said one piece of legislation, however strong and empowered it may be, cannot completely eradicate corruption. Therefore, there was need for a change in the system "where individual discrimination will be eliminated substantially".
Winding up the debate in the two Houses, before Parliament adopted a resolution conveying the acceptance of three issues raised by Anna Hazare to appeal to him to end the fast, Mukherjee said corruption was an important issue. "But does anyone of us believe seriously - not to score a debating point - one piece of legislation, however, powerful and effective it may be, will completely eradicate corruption?"
"There is a need for the change in the system and we are doing so," he added.
Mukherjee felt that while strong legislation was needed, "strong, powerful institution to supervise the effective implementation of the legislation is also needed. At the same time, a systematic change must happen. This is the area where we shall have to work collectively."
Mukherjee referred to changes effected by his ministry to smoothen tax system through 'electronisation' where role of individuals is eliminated to prevent corruption.
Earlier, setting the tone for the debate, Mukherjee said the country was at "cross-roads" and asked lawmakers to give their views on the "important" and "genuine" issues raised by Hazare. "Sorry, we cannot go beyond a certain point. Legislation is the domain of legislators. Nobody other than Parliament can make a law. Others can give suggestions. Executive powers is also limited in making laws... Parliament alone can make law."
He questioned demands for withdrawal of the government's Lokpal Bill, currently with the Standing Committee of Parliament. "You have every right to criticise. What is the argument and justification for this demand for withdrawal of this bill?"
Referring to the government's engagement with Hazare team, he said, "We tried to convince them. I admit we have failed. We could not carry conviction with them. Neither I have intention to score a debating point, nor I have intention to contradict anyone."
Mukherjee said, "If we want to get back the confidence of people, we shall have to ensure that premier institutions should function as per norms and rules. If we do, many issues will be corrected automatically."
Hailing the Constitution which has been described as the biggest 'Magna Carta', he said, "It is our responsibility to abide by the Constitution so that there is no conflict with the desire of our masters, so that there is no conflict. Our constitution is flexible enough to accommodate various ideas, it can accommodate various thoughts."
"Our government is committed to bring an appropriate legislation as well as put in place mechanisms that will reduce discretion and bring transparency in the functioning of public offices, as well as take strong measures against those who indulge in corruption."