PM, FM push new reforms strategy

Written by Economy Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 12 2009, 07:48am hrs
Lateral thinking guru Edward de Bono may soon become prescribed reading for ministers and government officials in the UPAs second innings. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for creative thinking by his top officials to ensure that the governments policy agenda is translated into action this time around. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is learnt to have even summoned a meeting of his Cabinet colleagues next week to come up with innovative ideas to push through reforms.

Singh discussed the governments agenda and called for new ideas to improve service delivery to citizens and a rethink of existing systems for monitoring and evaluation in a meeting with officials in the Prime Ministers Office on Thursday. The Prime Minister reiterated the need to think creatively on the agenda put forward by the government and stressed the need to be guided by the watchwords of equity, innovation and public accountability in the work of the office, a PMO statement said.

The PM also talked at length about the steps and measures that need to be initiated to activate the governments 100 day-agenda. The pending reform of regulatory institutions in the areas of health and education were also discussed.

Creative thinking would be imperative to push through prickly reforms like disinvestment on which UPAs key allies, the Trinamool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, have already placed their dissent on record. At the same time, reforms in sectors like education and healthcare need a calibrated approach so that entrenched vested interests dont stall progress.

The PMs clarion call for creative thinking comes a day after he wrote to each member of his ministerial council urging them to push the frontiers and question outdated practices to bring a critical edge to governance.

The Decade of Innovation about which the President spoke in her address should see the promotion of creativity and innovation in your areas of work. Equity, innovation and public accountability should be the watchwords of our government, the PMs missive said.

Meanwhile, Mukherjee, who is scheduled to present the Union Budget on July 3, has called for a meeting with Cabinet members next week. Ostensibly a pre-Budget exercise, Mukherjee is believed to have asked ministers to wear their thinking hatsto borrow a de Bono term--at the table.

Incidentally, in an unusual public missive to Mukherjee last week, the PM had asked him to ensure that the Budget adequately and appropriately reflects the priorities and programmes outlined in the Presidents address to the joint session of Parliament.