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Ministers don’t keep promises: Records

Fulfilment of assurances given by ministers in Parliament has dropped over the last three years to the lowest in a decade.

delhi Updated: Aug 09, 2012 02:04 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times

Fulfilment of assurances given by ministers in Parliament has dropped over the last three years to the lowest in a decade.

Assurances are undertakings or promises made on the floor of the House to consider a matter, take action or provide information. It’s given by ministers while replying to questions or during discussions on bills, resolutions and motions. Assurances are supposed to be fulfilled within three months.

But data analysed by HT shows that just 10% of the assurances given in 2009 were fulfilled within the calendar year. It was hardly better in 2010 and 2011 — 15% and 13% respectively in the calendar year. In comparison, it was 26% in 2002 and 25% in 2003.

The UPA II government, though, had a good beginning in 2005, fulfilling 36% of the assurances made within the calendar year, according to annual reports of the parliamentary affairs ministry — the nodal agency for ensuring that ministries fulfill their assurances on time.
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The annual reports cover only the fulfilment of assurances made during the Budget and Monsoon sessions.

“The low numbers show the government has not been serious in its commitment to assurances," said Subhash Kashyap, former secretary general, Lok Sabha.

Officials said fulfilment of assurances has improved lately, but many of these assurances are those pending for years. Some assurances are still pending for over two decades. Though the limit is three months, ministers often ask for extensions to fulfil their assurances.

Of the 21 reports the Lok Sabha Committee on Assurances has submitted from 2009 till May this year, 14 are reports on dropping of assurances.

Fulfilment depends on factors such as the kind of assurance and the seriousness of bureaucrats in executing them.

"Some ministers make vague promises to buy peace with agitated MPs. It then becomes our task to fulfil it. As a promise to Parliament is sacrosanct, we expect ministers and officials guiding them show a seasoned approach," said a bureaucrat.

An HRD official, who has about 80 assurances pending with his department, said: “While concrete assurances like release of funds can be fulfilled quickly, policy assurances like setting up of tribunals is contingent on passing of the bill, which takes time.”

First Published: Aug 09, 2012 00:54 IST