By Pema Khandu, Chief Minister, Arunachal Pradesh
Ever since I became Chief Minister, reducing corruption has been my top most agenda. It is the root of all social evils that breeds inequality, hinders social and economic growth. Since there is no easy way out, it needs a well-planned strategy to create a system that will discourage its growth.
As a well thought out plan, my first step was to deploy smart technology using online platforms to bring interaction between the government and the people closer. So on phase-wise, all government departments are being made to go online. Also pathways are being created to empower citizens to engage and participate in governance – identify priorities, problems and find solutions. This is first time in history of Arunachal that citizens have been asked to directly participate in state budget 2017 – besides convening a meeting of community based organisations to understand the aspirations of each tribe. Also I regularly reach out to people on daily basis through my social media accounts where I keep myself updated on responses from citizens.
Corruption is not always about bribes but it’s also about how our resources are judiciously used. Therefore it’s also important to develop smart responses. One way is by doing away of ‘March-ending’ culture, where works are done only at the fag end of financial year leaving too much scope for corruption and inefficiency in work. However, from this year onwards I have announced that after the budget session completes, public can contact relevant department and commence work from April itself. This will give a whole year time to plan and execute the work. To monitor the work especially on all central flagship programmes, the centre has been asked to depute central monitoring team to regularly inspect the work progress and quality.
Further, proper care are being taken that government employees are incentivised and paid well. Some empirical works shows that when government servants are poorly paid, the incidence of corruption is likely to grow. So the state government decided to fully implement the 7th pay commission in the state, in addition to regular conduct of departmental promotion committee (DPC) meeting to promote meritorious and senior employees.
Lack of manpower in government offices also contributes to corruption. When administration and services are far away from people, or when offices are short of employees, monetary benefits can be sought for faster completion of works and services. Therefore, to serve the people better and to ensure that public services reaches at their doorstep, the state cabinet recently has decided to create more than 500 posts to fill various vacancies. Also genuine demands for creation of districts are also being met so that administration reaches nearer to people and no one suffers on account of remoteness and inaccessibility.
Another area where corruption is rampant is in the recruitment process. So measures are being taken to verify the selection procedure. The state government has decided that the delimitation rules under the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) will be amended so that the entire process of appointment of grade B and below staffs will also be done through the commission.
One of the potent tools to fight corruption is the RTI legislation. To make it effective, State Information Commission is being strengthened. I have asked the government officials not to complaint of harassment on pretext of RTI urging them to make available all the informations online and to stay clean so that the alleged blackmailers stands no chance. Also I have repeatedly said in my public statement that corrupt officials will not be shown any leniency.
Though it may not directly impact on minimising corruption, but emphasise are being given to improve work culture in the ministries and the departments. I have formed group of secretaries to work on different themes and to bring out best of ideas to formulate pro-people policies that will benefit the masses in realistic terms. I have asked my minister colleagues to work on their performance report to be submitted periodically so that their creativity and efficiency is used to their maximum potential. I also plan to facilitate meeting between community NGOs and my Ministers so that people can directly express their concerns to them. On any non-performing Ministers, I have already declared that I will not hesitate to drop them from Ministry. However, I am grateful to all my cabinet colleagues and legislators that they have been very cooperative and understanding. It shows that everyone wants to do good, just we need to make them believe in it.