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Friday, August 17, 2001

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LS passes bill on private borrowings

NEW DELHI, AUG. 16. An amendment bill to empower the Union Territory of Pondicherry and the national capital territory of Delhi to borrow from the market was passed by the Lok Sabha today.

In his reply to the hour-long discussion, the Minister of State for Home, Mr. Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, said the aim of the legislation was to permit the two territories to operate their finances on their own in real terms and encourage them to observe strict financial discipline.

There was no contradiction since the market borrowings would be upon the security of the consolidated funds of the territories and not the Consolidated Fund of India.

The Centre was awaiting reports on grant of full Statehood from Delhi and on grant of special Statehood to Pondicherry since the latter's demand for full Statehood had been rejected by the Planning Commission.

The bill seeking to amend the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 would also confer powers on the administrator or Lieutenant Governor powers of the Union Government in this regard. There is a provision for a separate public account envisaged at empowering the Reserve Bank to monitor the ways and means position of these two territories.

All those who spoke with the exception of Mr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD) supported the measure. Mr. G. L. Bhargava (BJP) wondered whether the Union Territories should be permitted to run lotteries and issue bonds to raise funds. Mr. Singh and the Congress members, Mr. P. K. Bansal and Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, and Mr. Prakash Ambedkar (BBM) demanded full Statehood for the two territories which already had Assemblies.

They felt the problems of water, electricity and so on could not be tackled until the Governments had full powers of States.

Mr. Bansal said the Delhi Government had no control over police or on bodies such as the Delhi Development Authority. He said most Union Territories had been virtually handed over to the bureaucracy.

- UNI

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