Gist of The Hindu: February 2014

Gist of The Hindu: February 2014

FIXED TENURE FOR, BUREAUCRATS, SC DIRECTED CENTRE & STATES

To insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and the States to set up a Civil Services Board (CSB) for the management of transfers, postings, inquiries, process of promotion, reward, punishment and disciplinary matters.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose, giving a series of directions while disposing of a public interest writ petition — filed by former Union Cabinet Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian; former CECs T.S.Krishnamurthy and N. Gopalaswami; former Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Abid Hussain; former CBI Director Joginder Singh; former Manipur Governor Ved Prakash Marwah and 77 others — also said bureaucrats should not act on verbal orders given by politicians and suggested a fixed tenure for them.

Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Radhakrishnan said “the CSB, consisting of high ranking service officers, who are experts in their respective fields, with the Cabinet Secretary at the Centre and Chief Secretary at the State level, could be a better alternative (till the Parliament enacts a law), to guide and advise the State government on all servicematters, especially on transfers, postings and disciplinary action, etc., though their views also
could be overruled, by the political executive, but by recording reasons, which would ensure good governance, transparency and accountability in governmental functions.”

The Bench asked Parliament to enact a Civil Services Act under Article 309 of the Constitution setting up a CSB, “which can guide and advise the political executive transfer and postings, disciplinary action, etc.” The Bench directed the Centre, State governments and theUnion Territories to constitute such Boards “within three months, if not already constituted, till the Parliament brings in a proper Legislation insetting upCSB.”

The Benchsaid “We notice, atpresent the civil servants are not having stability of tenure, particularly in the State governments where transfers and postings are made frequently, at the whims andfancies of the executive head for political and other considerations and not in public interest. The necessity ofminimumtenure hasbeen endorsed and implemented by the UnionGovernment. In fact, we notice, almost 13 States have accepted the necessity of a minimum tenure for civil servants. Fixed minimum tenure would not only enable the civil servants to achieve their professional targets,but also help themto function as effective instruments of public policy.”

Deprecating repeated transfers, the Bench said minimum assured tenure ensures efficient service delivery and also increased efficiency. The Bench directed the Centre, States and Union Territories to issue appropriate directions to secure providing of minimum tenure of service to various civil servants, within threemonths.

IRAN, PAKISTAN GAS PIPELINE PROJECT

While Islamabad maintains that there is no official word on this yet from Tehran, the project is already in limbo since it does not have the $2 billion to complete its share.

Earlier, in October, the government had sought financial assistance from Iran as not many were interested in backing the project given the threat ofU.S. sanctions.

However, official sources said themain issues were financing and the agreement .The government at that time had not done its homework and why such a dealwith high prices for gas and huge penalty clauses was negotiated was not clear, the sources pointed out. Iran had already offered $500 million but Islamabad says it would need $2 billion to complete its share of the project. Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the project was going ahead and construction contracts were to be signed. He had also dismissed speculation that U.S. sanctions would affect the project. The pipeline was discussed with U.S. President Barack Obama during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ’s visit last week. Iran has already constructedmore than 900 km(out of 1,100 km) of the pipeline onits territory at a cost of $700 million.

The agreement was slammed by a report by Sustainable Policy Development Institute (SDPI), “Rethinking Pakistan’s Energy Equation: Iran- PakistanGas Pipeline.”

CURRENCY SWAP PACTS BETWEEN SIZE MAJOR CENTRAL BANKS

Sixmajor central banks, said theywouldmake their web of currency swap arrangements permanent as a ‘prudent liquidity backstop’ in case of future global financial strains. The Bank of Japan, the U.S. Federal Reserve,
the EuropeanCentral Bank, the Bankof England and the central banks of Canada and Switzerland will convert their “temporary bilateral liquidity swap arrangements’’ into standing arrangements that “will remain in place until further notice.’’

“The existing temporary swap arrangements have helped to ease strains in financialmarkets and mitigate their effects on economic conditions,’’ a coordinated statement from the central banks said.

“The standing arrangementswill continue toserve as a prudent liquidity backstop.’’

Global Credit Crunch

  • Currency swap lines were first introduced nearly six years ago in response to a global credit crunch that starved banks of liquidity andthreatenedtogumuptheentire financial system.
  • They were an important part of the policy response to the 2007-09 financial crisis, keeping a lid on funding costs, which had spiralled due tofear over counter-party risk.
  • The arrangements were next due for review in February.

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