The governance of Narendra Modi will be different. He gave an indication of that even before he took over. He asked all the secretaries to give presentations. He gave them an opportunity to state their points on what went wrong and if they had the authority what they would have done differently. This is going to be a very interactive government led by the PM. It will be a PMO-driven government and not for the GoM, of the GoM, and by the GoM government, Prasad said, in an apparent reference to the UPA governments record number of groups of ministers that delayed decision making.
However, Prasad while acknowledging the precarious nature of the economy and the need to restore investor confidence declined to answer questions on specifics. For instance, he said that retrospective taxation is bad in principle and should only be resorted to in exceptional cases.
But to a specific question on how the government intends to resolve the Vodafone and similar cases, he declined to comment, stating, It will be on a case-to-case basis. It will not be appropriate for me as a law minister to make a sweeping statement on the arbitration of tax disputes. But surely, where there is a case for conciliation, it can be worked out. Reconciliation and out-of-court settlement for specific cases requires legal examination on a case-to-case basis and I won't be able to comment on it, Prasad said.
On the telecom sector, the minister said that he has addressed the officers of the department of telecommunications and told them to work without fear. I am still in the process of taking presentations and understanding the issues, was Prasad's general response to most specific queries. He said that he went through a presentation on spectrum on Thursday, and on Friday was slated for a presentation on BSNL followed by one on MTNL on Saturday.
Asked whether privatisation was an option for the ailing BSNL and MTNL, Prasad did not give a firm reply but said that loss-making PSUs were turned around in Gujarat by the Modi government. Focus would be on reviving the PSUs, making them professional and efficient, he said.