The Telegraph
Tuesday , August 19 , 2014
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Merger of departments to stay fit

New Delhi, Aug. 18: The central government today took baby steps to weed out offices that have now fallen defunct by merging the directorate of sugar with that of edible oils.

The directorate of sugar, which determines the government’s policy on sugar milling and exports, besides inspecting sugar mills, at one time was headed by a deputy secretary but is now headed by a joint secretary and employs about 60 people, many of them technocrats.

At one point, the sugar directorate wielded considerable power as it could decide which industrialist would get a licence to set up a sugar mill and where. With the economy opening up, this department lost its powers but gained in employee strength.

The directorate of edible oils, which used to regulate the vanaspati industry, has over the years shrunk in size and importance with the industry free of regulatory shackles and now employs just 10-15 people. The directorate mostly collates data and forwards policy recommendations from edible oil millers to other departments.

An order issued by the food and public distribution department, which runs these directorates, said : “It has been decided that the directorate of sugar and the directorate of vanaspati, vegetable oils and fats, two attached offices under the department are merged into a single entity with the approval of the competent authority.”

The new directorate, named as “directorate of sugar and vegetable oils”, will work out of Jamnagar House and continue with the jobs they were doing.

Officials said this was in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’.

Sources said this was a first step and many more directorates and departments would be merged or abolished. India has some 51 ministries and 57 department.

FCI dues

Faced with a liquidity crunch, state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) has asked the government to clear dues of Rs 50,000 crore in a phased manner.

The dues had accumulated by the end of 2013-14 because of a lesser allocation of funds against the estimated subsidy bill in the last three-four years. The FCI has also asked the government to allow it to securitise the dues for raising funds from markets, sources said.