Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book the cooks

DC Debate: The corporate sector should be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal

It will end collusive corruption

Jayaprakash Narayan, president, Loksatta Party

(As told to Monica Jha)

Yes, I think corporates should be covered by the Lokpal to the extent that they are involved in collusive corruption, like in the mining scam in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and 2G scam.

Corporates are also bribe-givers and partners in corruption. Once government officials are covered by the Lokpal, the collusive corruption involving corporates will automatically be covered. Corporates are also covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act. Going beyond this and getting into their internal matters may not be possible.

Corporates are directly involved in corruption in various ways. The collusion between people in the government with some corporates hurts the interests of other genuine corporates.

Corporates have tremendous interests in all issues involving money and allotment of natural resources like land, mines, spectrum etc. Therefore, it is worthwhile to involve them in the discussion. Let them know that once the Lokpal is in place, things will change and bribe-giving corporates will not be acceptable. Many countries have provisions that keep a check on corruption in many forms.

Post-Watergate, the United States enforced the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has an important provision that applies to American firms and individuals who are involved in corrupt practices outside the US. Corrupt foreign officials can be punished in the US.

Either directly or through an interdepartmental process, the government must make sure that corporates are consulted. The Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill has invited the Loksatta Party to make a presentation in this regard on September 23. On behalf of the Loksatta Party, I will appeal to the government to involve corporates and to the corporates to become part of the discussion so that the legitimate concerns of corporates can be taken on board.

Giving them (corporates) lectures about honesty is not enough. There is need for a mechanism to address their grievances promptly. Moreover, what is the reward for a corporate’s honesty? Just the quiet satisfaction of being honest is not enough for a corporate. We need a system that assures them that they will not be losing out on opportunities or profits for being honest.

This will enhance the compliance rate and will help honest corporates keep a check on corrupt practices within corporates and the government.

The civil society’s approach has been antagonistic so far. I do not think this is right. Just because there are wrongdoers among corporates, all corporates should not be kept at bay. What the civil society must understand is that each player is important in this process.

Learning to collaborate is important. Wealth-creation is important and corporates are doing exactly that. They are an important and indispensable part of the system and if we recognise that and make sure that they have fair competition and follow ethical practices, it will not be difficult to achieve a corruption-free system.

Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle

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