Launch Meeting of
New Delhi, India, December 07, 2005
A group of 11 Members of
Parliament (MPs) from a cross section of political parties formally
launched the Parliamentarians? Forum on Economic Policy Issues (PARFORE)
in a meeting hosted by Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in New
Pradeep S Mehta,
Secretary General, CUTS welcomed all the participants and informed
them that the Forum has received assents from 38 MPs, who wish to
create a non-partisan forum to address the economic policy issues
which can help India move forward. The PARFORE is set up as a result
of a collective initiative taken up by five MPs representing
different political parties. Since the very beginning, CUTS has been
at the forefront of facilitating the entire process.
In this inaugural meeting, the PARFORE discussed two crucial issues:
(i) Regulatory Autonomy and Accountability; and (ii) WTO Hong Kong
Ministerial Conference: What is at Stake for India? For this, CUTS
prepared and distributed ?Issue Notes? in advance on both with the
objective of providing a brief to the Parliamentarians.
Regulatory Autonomy and
Accountability, was discussed at length, and the participants felt
the need for a closer attention to it. The MPs expressed concern on
the need to address the gaps in the regulatory framework in India.
Further, the practice of appointing retired bureaucrats in
regulatory bodies was also debated, a trend which the MPs wanted to
On the WTO Hong Kong
Ministerial, MPs opined that all matters should be discussed in
depth after the Ministerial.
endorsed that the PARFORE offers a fit platform for MPs to share
views and ideas on economic policy issues on an informal basis,
which would help in inculcating better understanding, and
subsequently, in reaching a consensus on contentious issues.
A suggestion was,
therefore, made to CUTS to continue preparing detailed analysis on
various bills, which are to be presented in the Parliament, and
organise such meetings to discuss them. It was felt that such a
discussion would help MPs in understanding the bills better and
hence facilitate their effective participation in the debates.
Some of the MPs present
were: Yashwant Sinha, Dinesh Trivedi, N K Premchandran (all of them
are initiators of PARFORE); Sharad Joshi, K R Sambasiva Rao,
Khabiruddin Ahmed, Ram Singh Kaswan, Sartaj Singh Chatwal, Robert
Kharshing, Manoj Bhattacharya and Annasahib Patil. Many of the MPs,
who endorsed the participation, could not turn up because of winter
session of the Parliament.
?Addressing the gaps in
the regulatory framework in India is badly required, and the papers
produced by CUTS will help spur a good discourse?, said Sharad
Joshi. ?My worry is that all new regulatory bills provide a
regulatory authority, which are going to be manned by retired
bureaucrats. It appears that the bills are being drafted to find
jobs for civil servants after their superannuation, rather than
addressing the core concerns of the law?, he added. Marxist MP,
Manoj Bhattacharya, said: ?Increasingly, we are having more
non-regulated sectors in India, while the imperative is to create
and place sound regulators in the best interest of the people?. He
felt that the government is inclined towards a neo-liberal approach
to economic management, which was not desirable.
Participating in the
discussion, Robert Kharshing expressed concern over the growing
inequality in the country ? a failure of the delivery system of the
It was decided that CUTS
would draw up calendar for the year 2006 and organise meetings of
the PARFORE in New Delhi, on Wednesdays during the Parliamentary