Ministers could hand over business to trusts: Khurshid

Corporate Affairs Minister suggests the US model

PTI | February 4, 2010



Following the prime minister's reported call to his cabinet colleagues to stay away from any business interest, Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today suggested that ministers could hand over their businesses to a trust, as is being practised in the US.

"American presidents normally give their business over to a trust during their presidency and it becomes transparent who's running it, for what they are running it and the president or the politician concerned does not have a day-to-day involvement in the business," he pointed out.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Press Trust of India here today, Khurshid said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had something similar in mind when he called for separation of commercial and ministerial responsibilities.

"I think it's something like that what the Prime Minister wants to achieve for us. It's a welcome move and I am sure, the nuts and bolts of that can be put in place as we move forward," Khurshid said, adding such a step is likely to draw support from across the board.

The prime minister has reportedly asked his Cabinet colleagues to disclose details about their assets and liabilities and refrain from dealing with them on an every day basis while in office.

The ministers have also been advised to severe all connections, short of divesting themselves of the ownership, with the conduct and management of any business in which they were interested before their appointment as ministers.

In a code of conduct for ministers of both the Centre and the states, Singh had reportedly emphasised on the need for providing the particulars of all immovable properties and the value of shares and debentures, cash holdings and jewellery.

The ministers have also been advised to sever all connections, short of divesting themselves of the ownership, with the conduct and management of any business in which they were interested before their appointment as ministers.

Although the code has no legal backing, still it is expected of all ministers to adhere to the code.

The authority for ensuring the observance of the code is the Prime Minister in the case of Union ministers and the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister in the case of chief ministers. State ministers should report to the chief ministers.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy welcomed the decision.

"It is a normal practice. That is whenever you give statement of assets and liabilities annually, the statement has to be given to the Prime Minister and to the Speaker," Mukherjee said.

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