PM hopeful budget session will be productive (Second Lead)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday sent out a message of cooperation with the opposition to ensure a smooth budget session as he attended the all-party luncheon meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and expressed hope that parliament’s sitting would be “fruitful and productive”.

“We are looking forward to a fruitful and productive session of parliament. Government, on its part, is ready to discuss any issue that may be brought by the opposition. There are a lot of important legislation to be passed, including the budget. Hence, it is probably the most important session of parliament,” he told reporters soon after coming out of the meeting.

Manmohan Singh’s confidence in a smooth parliament session comes following the government indicating that it was willing to set up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to investigate the 2G spectrum scam, an issue that previously figured in an all-party meeting attended among others by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.

The meeting is said to have discussed the modalities for setting up a JPC. With the government ready for a JPC probe, talks are being held on when to announce the decision, as well as the composition of the committee.

The speaker is reported to have conveyed to the leaders on how important it is for normalcy to be restored in parliament.

Earlier, at a pre-session press conference Friday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that the government would in a day or two take a decision on the issue of a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam.

The 23-day winter session in November-December last year was virtually washed out as the opposition party members persistently protested, demanding a JPC into the 2G spectrum scam.

Research groups have calculated that the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs.171 crore due to the disruption of parliamentary work in the winter session.

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