Transparency in govt is our biggest achievement: Venkaiah

Navadha Pandey AM Jigeesh | Updated on January 23, 2018

VENKAIAH NAIDUUnion Minister forParliamentary Affairs, UrbanDevelopment, Housing andUrban Poverty Alleviation

In this ‘year of hope after decades of despair’, bringing transparency has been the biggest achievement of the NDA government, Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs, M Venkaiah Naidu, said. The government’s focus now is to reduce dependence on agriculture, he told BusinessLine in an interview. Edited excerpts:

How do you assess the first year of your government — achievements and failures?

I could not find any failure, except the failure to get the needed numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Expectations are very high and you need to rise to them. It will take time. I can say that this is a year of hope, after a decade of despair.

Our biggest achievement is transparency in government. No scam, no scandal. With coal and spectrum auctions, we followed the most transparent method. 47 Bills were approved, a record in the history of Parliament.

47 Bills were passed, most Ordinances cleared. The problem is a couple of Bills. Wouldn’t it have been better if you had talked to Opposition?

We talked to them umpteen times. GST is their Bill, and they are not ready to accept it. GST was discussed by ministerial committees five times. The Lok Sabha approved it and it was blocked in the Rajya Sabha because you get some vicarious satisfaction by blocking it. You are blocking growth.

You seek greater role for Parliament in decision-making, but a number of Bills did not go to standing committees…

In the first year of a government, if all Bills are sent to standing committees, you will accuse us of not doing anything. When we formed the government, expectations were very high. People are now becoming restive. We have to take certain decisions… Parliament has done good work, undoubtedly. Credit, to some extent, also goes to the Opposition. But my point is, don’t stall growth.

But, how will you convince your friends, like the Kisan Sangh and BMS, who are opposing the land Bill?

We are in talks with them. At the end of the day, they will agree, and if there is a meaningful suggestion, we are ready to accept it. If some constructive suggestion comes (from the select committee, joint committee of Parliament), then we will consider it without altering the basic purpose of the Bill.

The Finance Minister said one of the main focus areas is to reduce dependence on agriculture. Your Ministry is very crucial in this regard.

I can only function if funds are available. That’s why the focus of the government is on revival of the economy. It’s a fact that agriculture is becoming un-remunerative. You need to find some other avenues for children of agricultural families. The idea of all our projects is to attract people from agriculture so that dependence is reduced. The focus now has to be on revival of agriculture.

What is the progress on smart cities, AMRUT, Housing for All?

The entire consultation is over. Broad parameters have been identified taking the States and stakeholders into consideration. I have approved the guidelines for smart cities and AMRUT.

We are waiting to launch smart cities scheme through PPP model and a city challenge system

How will these cities be selected?

Every State will get at least one city, without political consideration. Cities have to show their capability to absorb this investment and also repay it.

There will be user charges in smart cities. First year, whichever city qualifies, will get preference. Next year, other cities will have time to improve and stand in queue. Fourteen foreign countries have come forward to join smart cities project at various levels.

Published on May 25, 2015

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