Monday, April 24, 2017

Coming soon, a new weapon against corruption, Good governance has been a mantra that the BJP has been repeating in Goa since the party formed its first government in the State.

Oherald: Goa: Monday, April 24, 2017.
Good governance has been a mantra that the BJP has been repeating in Goa since the party formed its first government in the State. While the party and its governments have prided themselves on delivery of governance, the big step towards achieving this will only be happening next month and be driven by an alliance partner, rather than the BJP itself. Speaking about the implementation of the Time Bound Delivery of Services Act, Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte said that once it is implemented, government employees will be held accountable for failing to comply with the norms set. The Act aims towards ensuring a no-nonsense policy and zero-tolerance to corruption, features in government service that have been long awaited.
The State government has targeted early May by when to enforce the Act that will ensure that the common man will be assured that he will get the certificate he has applied for in time, that the government service sought will be delivered without delay. Strange as it may appear to the world outside, here in Goa and most of India there is actually need of an Act to ensure that government servants work and deliver within the timeframe they are expected to. This is an Act that is meant to revolutionise government working and alleviate the number of trips that the ordinary citizen will have to make to the government office. After the Right to Information Act, this is the major piece of legislation that will empower the citizen. Ironically, while Goa was a pioneer in the RTI arena, it is lagging far behind in the implementation of the Right to Services Act.
Madhya Pradesh was the first State in the country to enact such a piece legislation in August 2010. A year later, on Independence Day August 15, 2011, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar implemented the Act in that State. It aimed to reduce corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency and bring about transparency in government service. Within months results were visible in Bihar, as trips to government offices, the need to bribe to get a job done and the number of lost files were reduced. Punjab followed Bihar, and a large number of State have enacted similar Acts since then.
The Goa (Right of Citizens to Time-Bound Delivery of Public Services) Act, 2013 was passed by the Goa Legislative Assembly on May 2, 2013, and assented to by the Governor on June 19, 2013 and notified immediately after. The Act specifies the time limit within which designated officers of government departments or public authorities must provide citizens the service requested. Finally, the Act is being enforced in the State, and with this hopefully there will come a change in the way bureaucrats function, bringing in discipline in offices.
Yet, merely implementing and enforcing it may not be enough. The government must also create awareness of the Act so that people know what their rights are under the Act. There is a school of thought that merely implementation of the Act will not reduce pendency in offices and delays in citizens getting services, but awareness of the Act will, and in turn also reduce corruption in government offices. In the weeks ahead, it is not only how the government implements the Act that will change how bureaucrats work, but how people make use of the provisions of the Act to benefit from it that will make the difference to bring about the change in the system.
Goa has been able to make good and effective use of the Right To Information Act, there is little doubt that the Time Bound Delivery Of Services Act will also be a weapon in the hands of the people, as long as they are educated as to how to use it.