The Kerala government is looking for ways to avoid delays in implementation of its programmes and projects. It has been proposing many things for the past three and a half years. But it is no where near completing implementation of most of them. All it has done is to delay projects like the Kerala Transport Project and City Improvement Project started by the previous government.
It is learned that Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has asked former Chief Secretary V. Ramachandran to submit a report on avoiding delays. However, no miracles could be expected in the fourth year of LDF government as a result of the report. Mr. Ramachandran can take credit for many things but he don’t have a reputation for doing anything spectacular to avoid delays when he was the Chief Secretary and Vice Chairman of the State Planning Board. What he could not do when he had executive power is not going to be achieved through his desk work.
Moreover, his experience is with the civil service. The major chunk of the problem lies with the politicians and not the civil service. Civil service can be improved upon only if the politicians show the will to do so. First of all, accountability should be ensured. The current level of protection guilty officials get should be removed by changing rules regarding suspensions and dismissals. A fast track and independent system (devoid of political interference) should established in government to enquire into charges against officials and take disciplinary action.
Currently, the administration is being managed by private staff of the Ministers and party men in Secretariat associations. This situation should change. Department heads and other officials should be given functional freedoms while maintaining accountability. Ministers and their staff should not interfere in day to day functioning of officials but set policies and see to it that they are implemented.
Governance today is complex and it needs dedicated work. Ministers should remain in offices and do their work instead of going around the State for most days of the week. Several Ministers and officials now push only the projects in which they have monetary (read corruption) or political interest. Other projects remain unattended. This problem can only be addressed by voters who should elect representatives who have a commitment to the State’s development.
The Opposition should form shadow cabinets and do detailed preparatory work for assuming office, if they are elected to power. The should have their plans ready the very day them assume office.