India: Parliament should have say in policy-making: Former power minister Suresh Prabhu

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Parliament and its committees — and not just ministries — should play the key role in formulating policies, former power minister Suresh Prabhu has said.

"It may take a little longer to frame policies, but standing committees with inclusion of members of Parliament from different parties should be empowered to come up with foolproof guidelines," Prabhu, who heads an advisory panel for integrated development of power, coal and renewable energy, said at the Regulators and Policymakers Retreat of Independent Power Producers Association of India in Goa over the weekend.

Prabhu said debating and formulating policies in Parliament would bring transparency in the exercise and help avoid controversies, which could attract scrutiny from the CAG, the CBI and the Supreme Court.

His suggestion came during a panel discussion on Saturday, after former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said that if the government pursues policy-making for a certain sector proactively, it ends up raising suspicion of audit and investigation agencies.

Khurshid recounted the 2G spectrum and coal block allocation issues where the CAG's observations had triggered legal scrutiny. "A policy-making statement should be made in Parliament, only then it will have the stamp of authority that no agency will raise questions over it," the former minister said.

"This will also bring transparency, clarity and stability in the policy regime. Now, it is time for creating secondgeneration standing committees whose recommendations, whatever they may be, must be taken as final."

Referring to losses in the power sector, Prabhu suggested monitoring commercial losses of distribution companies on a monthly basis, instead of annually, as it is done now.

SOURCE: Economic Times, August 4th 2014: