Fewer Min­istries for Faster De­ci­sions

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

The new BJP govern­ment at the Cen­tre will re­port­edly have fewer min­is­ters and min­istries. This is wholly wel­come. De­ci­sion-mak­ing will be quicker, and over­heads lower. The Con­sti­tu­tion says the num­ber of min­is­ters, in­clud­ing the prime min­is­ter, in the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters should not ex­ceed 15% of the to­tal num­ber of mem­bers of the House, but this num­ber should be taken as the up­per limit. Of course, coali­tion com­pul­sions forced the UPA to have a jumbo 72-mem­ber min­is­te­rial coun­cil: 28 Cab­i­net min­is­ters and 43 min­is­ters of state, be­sides the Prime Min­ster. The BJP, with a clear ma­jor­ity, has no such com­pul­sions. Let there be fewer Cab­i­net min­is­ters and no min­is­ters of state with­out work. Fewer min­istries will be a log­i­cal fall­out. There is sim­ply no rea­son to have 51odd cen­tral min­istries, apart from the Cab­i­net sec­re­tariat, Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and de­part­ments of atomic en­ergy and space. An in­te­grated min­istry of en­ergy — com­pris­ing coal, power, petroleum and nat­u­ral gas and re­new­able en­ergy — is a good idea. The case for an in­te­grated min­istry of trans­port, com­pris­ing avi­a­tion, road­ways, ship­ping and even­tu­ally rail­ways, is com­pelling. The fer­tiliser min­istry must be merged with agri­cul­ture to en­sure over­all wel­fare for farm­ers, and min­istries of con­sumers af­fairs and food, food pro­cess­ing should be de­part­ments un­der the agri­cul­ture min­istry’s roof. The steel min­istry, meant only to run state-owned com­pa­nies, should be scrapped. Min­istry of cor­po­rate af­fairs can again func­tion as a depart­ment un­der the min­istry of fi­nance. The ad­min­is­tra­tion should be trimmed. Like in the army, pro­mo­tions should be based on merit and avail­abil­ity of posts. Only a com­pe­tent sub­set of joint sec­re­taries should rise any fur­ther. Those who do, should be al­lowed to re­tire at their will.

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