There are indications that the Lok Pal Bill, 2011 is likely to be taken up for consideration and passing during the current Winter session of Parliament. The Bill was introduced on Aug 4, 2011 in the Lok Sabha after a prolonged agitation led by Anna Hazare (see PRS analysis of the Bill). It was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice (see PRS note on Committee Systems). The Committee submitted its report on December 9, 2011. The report includes 10 dissent notes from 17 MPs. (a) Kirti Azad, Bal Apte, D.B. Chandre Gowda, Harin Pathak, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Madhusudan Yadav. (b) Ram Jethmalani (c) Ram Vilas Paswan (d) Shailendra Kumar (e) Prasanta Kumar Majumdar (f) Pinaki Misra (g) A. Sampath (h) S. Semmalai (i) Meenakshi Natrajan, P.T. Thomas, and Deepa Dasmunshi (j) Vijay Bahadur Singh Presently, the government and the Opposition are in the process of formulating their stands on various key issues such as inclusion of the Prime Minister, the lower bureaucracy and the role of the Central Investigation Bureau. We provide a broad overview of the views of the members of the Committee on various key issues. Unanimity on issues On some issues, there was unanimity among the Committee members:
Dissent on issues Certain members of the Committee dissented on specific issues. In Table 1, we list the issues and the reason for the dissent. Table 1: Recommendation of Standing Committee and dissent by individual MPs
|Issues||Standing Committee recommendations||Points of dissent||Dissenting MPs|
|Inclusion of Prime Minister||Committee left the decision to Parliament stating that there are pros and cons to each view.||- PM should be included. - PM should be brought under the Lok Pal with some exceptions for national security, foreign policy, atomic energy etc. - The decision to investigate or prosecute the PM should be taken by the Lok Pal with 3/4th majority.||- Prasanta Kumar Majumdar, A. Sampath. - Kirti Azad etc, Shailendra Kumar, Pinaki Misra.|
|Grievance redressal mechanism||Enact separate law for a grievance redressal mechanism.||Include in the Lok Pal Bill.||Kirti Azad etc, Ram Jethmalani, Shailendra Kumar.|
|Inclusion of bureaucracy||Include Group B officers in addition to Group A.||- Include all groups of govt employees. - Include Group ‘C’. - Do not include bureaucrats.||- Kirti Azad etc, A. Sampath. - Meenakshi Natrajan etc, Shailendra Kumar, Prasanta Kumar. Majumdar, Pinaki Misra, Vijay Bahadur Singh. - Ram Vilas Paswan.|
|Lokayukta||Single, central law to deal with Lok Pal and state Lokayuktas to ensure uniformity in prosecution of public servants.||States should retain power to constitute Lokayuktas.||- S. Semmalai.|
|Private NGOs, media and corporate||Include all entities with specified level of govt control or which receive specified amount of public donations or foreign donations above Rs 10 lakh.||No private organsiations should be included.||- Kirti Azad etc., Ram Vilas Paswan.|
|Composition of search and selection committees||Selection Committee: In addition to PM and Speaker, it should include the Chief Justice of India, an eminent Indian unanimously nominated by the CAG, CEC and UPSC chairman and only Leader of Opposition of Lok Sabha. Search Committee: Mandatory to constitute. Minimum 7 members with 50% members from SC/ST, OBC, minorities and women.||Selection Committee: PM, Minister, LoPs of both Houses, two judges and CVC. Search Committee: CJI, CAG, CEC, Cabinet Secretary, judges of Supreme Court and High Courts. Selection Committee: PM, LoP in the Lok Sabha, one judge of SC and one Chief Justice of a HC, CVC, CEC and CAG. Search Committee: 10 members out of which 5 should be from civil society and 5 should be retired Chief Justice, CVC, CAG and CEC. Half the members to be from SC/STs, OBCs, minorities or women.||- Kirti Azad etc. - Shailendra Kumar.|
|Removal of Lok Pal||In addition to petitioning the President, a citizen should be allowed to approach the Supreme Court directly with a complaint. If admitted, it would be heard by a 5 judge bench. If President does not refer a citizen’s petition, he should give reasons.||Investigation should be conducted by an independent complaint authority. Heavy fines should be imposed in case of a false or frivolous complaint. Instead of the President, the Supreme Court should have power to suspend a member pending inquiry.||- Shailendra Kumar.|
|Role of CVC and CBI||CVC should investigate Group C and D employees. Instead of Lok Pal’s investigation wing, the CBI should investigate cases after inquiry by the Lok Pal. CBI to have autonomy over its investigation. Lok Pal shall exercise general supervision over CBI.||CBI should be under the control of the Lok Pal. The CBI Director should be appointed by the Lok Pal’s selection committee. The CVC should be under Lok Pal and the SVCs under the state Lokayuktas.||- Ram Jethmalani, Shailendra Kumar. - A. Sampath. - Meenakshi Natrajan etc.|
|False and frivolous complaints||Term of imprisonment should be maximum six months. Amount of fine should not exceed Rs 25,000. Specifically provide for complaints made in good faith in line with the Indian Penal Code.||The term of imprisonment should not exceed 30 days.||- Kirti Azad etc.|
|Article 311||Article 311 of the Constitution should be amended or replaced with a statute.||The procedure adopted by the disciplinary authority should conform to Article 311.||- Kirti Azad etc, Meenakshi Natrajan etc.|
|Finance||Lok Pal Bill states that all expenses of the Lok Pal shall be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India (no need for Lok Sabha clearance). The Committee did not make any recommendation with regard to finances of the Lok Pal.||Lok Pal’s expenses should be cleared by the Parliament. Lok Pal should present its budget directly to Parliament rather than through a ministry.||- Kirti Azad etc. - Shailendra Kumar.|
|Sources: The Lok Pal Bill, 2011; the Department Related Standing Committee Report on the Lok Pal Bill, 2011 and PRS.|
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to conduct an off-cycle meeting today to discuss the failure to meet the inflation target under Section 45ZN of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. As per the Reserve Bank of India Act (RBI), 1934, MPC is required to meet at least four times each year, to discuss the macroeconomic issues in the country, and take policy decisions to address those. This is the second time MPC has conducted an off-cycle meeting in 2022-23. The meeting is scheduled in light of inflation being consistently high for nine consecutive months.
In this blog, we discuss what the inflation targeting framework is, examine retail and wholesale prices, and the divergence between them.
What is the inflation targeting framework, and what happens if inflation is persistently high?
In 2016, Parliament amended the RBI Act, 1934 to change the monetary policy, and introduce an inflation targeting framework. This framework prioritises price stability to achieve sustainable GDP growth. Price stability allows investors to confidently invest their money for productive activities, without worrying about it losing value. Price stability also maintains the purchasing power of consumers, i.e., the ability to purchase a good (or service) with a given amount of money.
As per the new framework, the central government, in consultation with RBI sets: (i) an inflation target, and (ii) an upper and lower tolerance level for retail inflation. The target has been set at 4%, with an upper tolerance limit of 6% and a lower tolerance limit of 2%. The upper and lower limits indicate that although it is desirable for inflation to be close to 4%, deviation between these limits is acceptable. The target and bands are revised every five years. In March 2021, the existing targets were carried forward.
Retail inflation has been above 6% for the past nine months, and it has been above 4% from October 2019 onwards (See Figure 1).
Figure 1: Consumer price index (year-on-year; in percentage)
Sources: Database on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India; PRS.
If inflation is above or below the prescribed limits for three quarters, RBI must submit a report to the central government explaining why prices have been rising (or falling) persistently, what will be done to correct that, and an estimate as to when the target will be achieved.
The MPC uses tools such as interest rates to control the level of inflation in the economy. One such rate is the policy repo rate, which is the rate at which RBI lends money to banks. An increase in the policy repo rate makes borrowing money more costly, and hence is expected to control inflation by reducing the money supply. MPC increased this rate from 4% in April 2022 to 4.4% in May 2022, to 4.9% in June 2022, to 5.4% in August 2022, and to 5.9% in September 2022.
Breaking down the Consumer Price Index and the Wholesale Price Index
Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the general prices of goods and services such as food, clothing, and fuel over time. Retail inflation is calculated as the change in the CPI over a period of time. Goods and services such as petrol, food products, health, and education are considered for its calculation, which are assigned different weights (See Table 1). Between February 2022 and August 2022, the average annual inflation was 6.9%. The rise in prices of subcomponents of the CPI during this period is indicated in Table 2.
Table 1: Assigned weights for the calculation of CPI
Sources: MOSPI; PRS.
Table 2: Average inflation of some CPI components
Sources: Database on Indian Economy, RBI; PRS.
CPI is not the only index that measures inflation in an economy. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the wholesale prices of goods. A change in wholesale prices reflects wholesale inflation. Table 3 indicates the weights assigned to goods for calculating the WPI. Manufactured goods include metals, chemicals, food products, and textiles.
Primary articles (23%) include food articles, and crude petroleum and natural gas. Fuel and power (12%) include mineral oils, electricity, and coal. WPI has remained above 10% from April 2021 onwards. It reached an all-time high of 17% in May 2022. This was driven by the inflation in metals, kerosene and petroleum coke, fruits and vegetables, and palm oil.
Table 3:Assigned weights for the
Sources: Ministry of Commerce and Industry; PRS.
Why has WPI inflation been consistently above CPI inflation?
Movements in the WPI have an impact on the CPI. For almost a year and half, CPI inflation has remained below WPI inflation. However, as per the design of the indices, it is expected that CPI would remain above WPI, and that any increase in WPI would reflect in the CPI after a time lag. This is because retail prices include taxes (as a percentage of price), while wholesale prices do not. Additionally, some of the goods in WPI act as inputs in the goods considered in CPI. An increase in input prices would lead to higher retail prices after a time lag.
We discuss possible reasons for why CPI has remained below WPI for a year and a half.
Figure 2: Consumer Price Index and Wholesale Price Index
Sources: Database on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India; PRS.
Composition of indices
As indicated in Table 2 and 3, the composition of the two indices varies. For instance, prices of manufacture of basic metals, chemicals, and machinery grew at an average rate of 13% between February 2021 and September 2022. They contribute 7% to the WPI. These are input goods for producing final goods and services such as automobiles, which are included in the CPI. The rise in prices of transport vehicles, communication devices, fuel for transport, and housing (CPI components) rose by 6% during this period.
The Ministry of Finance has observed that wholesale prices did not feed into retail prices (from March 2021 onwards) as wholesalers absorbed the rising input costs and did not pass them on to retailers. In August 2022, it noted that as retail prices are rising now, the pass-through may occur.