New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken a strong note of the aversion of the Union ministers to make their assets public, something the PM has been insisting from his first year in office.
Annoyed by the fact that the ministers have failed to file their annual statements in spite of strict instructions from the PMO, the PM has directed Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar to ask all ministers to file statements of their personal assets and liabilities to the PMO immediately.
Government sources, however, described the move as a routine annual exercise in order to ensure transparency in public life.
The Cabinet Secretary has already issued a circular asking all ministers to submit their statements for three financial years since 2004 when the UPA government assumed office. The circular was issued on October 30 this year.
The circular has asked the ministers to also furnish details of their business interests and that of their family members.
According to government sources, the PM had asked his ministers to file their asset statements every year to ensure transparency. However, not many are understood to have filed the statements.
Majority of the ministers have missed three deadlines of March 2005, March 2006 and March 2007. This has prompted the Cabinet Secretary to issue the fresh circular.
The move is akin to a similar exercise undertaken by the then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in January 1999, when he had asked his ministerial colleagues to declare their assets and liabilities, including those of their family members, before the month-end in an attempt to refurbish the sagging image of his government.
In fact, in keeping with his promise to ensure a transparent and corruption-free administration, Vajpayee had, asked his ministers to declare their assets soon after he became the PM for the second time in March 1998.
In a letter written to members of his team, Vajpayee had even proposed to place copies of the statements of assets and liabilities of his ministers in the Parliament library.