29 September, 2020

The Super-Regulator

Regulatory bodies wince at a proposal for parliamentary control

Jitender Gupta
The Super-Regulator
The threat of legislative control has come to haunt India's autonomous regulatory bodies. Across sectors, there's a debate on 'who will regulate the regulators'. Pitched against each other are the Union finance ministry and the Planning Commission on one side, and the various watchdogs and their nodal ministries on the other. Neither camp is willing to give an inch. Watching from the sidelines are the corporates, who naturally don't mind regulators being made mindful of their 'limits' by the government.

A Planning Commission proposal, which is now with the committee of secretaries, intends to make regulators accountable to Parliament. Regulators see this as a bureaucratic act to scuttle their independence and autonomy. It's being interpreted as the politicians' way of hitting back at some regulators, whose decisions haven't pleased the policymakers. A blunt A.K. Basu, former chairman, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), thinks "greater parliamentary intervention" will convert regulatory agencies into just "another government...


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