Poll manifesto for ‘systemic reforms’, strengthening Lokayukta, betterment of farmers, youth, women, etc.
The Congress in Punjab will bring in transparency and accountability in all spheres of administration and work towards ushering in “systemic reforms” to promote fiscal responsibility and check corruption, according to the present Opposition party’s election manifesto ahead of the January 30 polls.
Titled ‘Navi Soch -- Nava Punjab’, it sought to address the concerns of all sections of society, particularly the farmers, youth, women and minorities, besides those involved in industry and agriculture. The party also mooted reforms in the education and health sectors
The document, released by Pradesh Congress president Amarinder Singh along with legislature party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal last evening, also promised to continue free power. It proposed to increase the scope of welfare projects, including the Shagun scheme that is meant to benefit economically poor girls of backward class, upper class and the Christian community besides the Schedule Castes.
The manifesto said the Congress would strengthen the institution of Lokayukta by taking specific actions like a transparent system of appointments. Also, transfers in the ombudsman’s body would happen without checking the process of ongoing investigations. All public officers will be under the purview of the State Lokpal Act, while the Lokayukta will have the power to recommend punishment, demote government officials or removement them if found guilty after inquiry. Also, a system will be put in place to protect honest officers.
Taking a cue from the Bihar government, the manifesto also states that all public officers including MLAs, ministers and public servants, would declare their financial assets at the start of every financial year. A statutory Vigilance Commission, formed under a new legislation, will be established. Property of corrupt ministers/officials will be confiscated and auctioned so as to fund social welfare activities. The manifesto assures a new legislation for transparency in public procurement with the objective of bringing all procurements of various departments under common regulation, restricting discretion, and enacting efficient dissemination of information. As part of such a procurement reform, the government’s official website will put up all pertinent notices and details of awarded contracts.
Further, recruitment to all government posts would be made through a statutory transparent mechanism -- at regular intervals. The existing institutions of Punjab Public Services Commission and the Subordinate Services Selection Board will be restructured in a manner that there is no interference -- political or otherwise.
Also promised are free electricity, crop insurance and health insurance schemes for farmers and committed round-the-clock power for the industrial sector.