Sunday May 27, 2018
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Govt does background check on ministries’ consultants

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Looking into the matter of alleged leak of official documents from ministries, government is starting to collect details of all consultants working in its department and ministries, but get their salaries from external agencies.

lok_sabha_india_hd_images_computer_backgroundExternal agencies, including UN bodies, fund many consultants under bilateral and multilateral agreements. A three member panel headed by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha, is assessing the details collected. The other two members in the panel are Finance Secretary Ratan Watal and Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs.

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) is collecting and compiling together the information, to be viewed by the three-member panel.

As reported in The Indian Express, all ministries and departments have been sent a 24-point questionnaire about the consultants and told to explain “the need/justification for external support.”

The questionnaire also asks if the consultant in question reports to the ministry or directly to the bilateral/multilateral institution; and is the work of the consultant shared with the bilateral/multilateral institution.

The consultants work for ministries and departments which include the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,Women and Child Development, Human Resource Development, Social Justice and Empowerment, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Science and Technology, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Planning Commission (now known as the NITI Aayog), and missions/directorates under them.

There is no exact count of number of consultants tabulated as of yet, but around 100 work with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and another 80 are attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The DEA sent questionnaires to the ministries and departments on July 23, after a decision was taken regarding the same on July 16.

A letter by the DEA said, “Committee has now directed to obtain detailed information about engagement of consultants/advisers from each ministry/department.

Information collected from the questionnaire will reveal the level at which the decision was taken to engage the consultants; whether the position was advertised; whether an interview was held; whether the selection was made by the ministry or by the bilateral/multilateral institution; whether the consultant had prior experience of working in the ministry/bilateral-multilateral institution; the salary structure; terms of reference; and, whether feedback on quality of output is taken into consideration prior to release of payment.

Some ministries/departments have filled in the details while others are still in the process of submitting their replies.

 

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UN Requests Trump Not to Quit Iran Deal

Under the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is committed to slashing the number of its centrifuges, which are machines used to enrich uranium.

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Trump has been a strong critic of the accord, in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Iran Flag, Pixabay

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged Donald Trump not to walk away from an international deal designed to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Speaking to the BBC, Guterres said there was a real risk of war if the 2015 agreement was not preserved.

Trump has been a strong critic of the accord, in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

The US president has until May 12, to decide whether to stick with the deal.

Guterres told the BBC that the Iran agreement was an “important diplomatic victory” and should be maintained.

“We should not scrap it unless we have a good alternative,” he said, adding: “We face dangerous times.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged Donald Trump not to walk away from an international deal designed to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
Donald Trump

It comes just days after Israel revealed “secret nuclear files” accusing Iran of having covertly pursued nuclear weapons.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the files provided proof that the Obama-era nuclear deal was “built on lies”, the BBc report said.

European allies France, the UK and Germany meanwhile have agreed that pursuing the current nuclear deal with Iran is the best way to stop it developing nuclear weapons.

In 2015, Tehran signed a deal with the US, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain agreeing to limit its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

Under the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is committed to slashing the number of its centrifuges, which are machines used to enrich uranium.

It is also meant to cut its stockpile of enriched uranium drastically and not enrich remaining uranium to the level needed to produce nuclear weapons.

Trump has frequently voiced his opposition to the “insane” deal, which he has described as the “worst ever”. Unless the European signatories to the deal and the US Congress addressed his concerns, he plans to withdraw on the next deadline for waiving sanctions.

Trump is unhappy that the deal only limited Iran’s nuclear activities for a fixed period (till 2025) and had failed to stop the development of ballistic missiles.

Also Read: Pompeo is Hopeful For the Change in the Course of History on the Korean Peninsula 

He also said it had handed Iran a $100bn windfall that it used “as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression” across the Middle East.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has questioned the legitimacy of efforts by the US and France to change the nuclear deal with his country.

He has said that Iran “will not accept any restrictions beyond its commitments” to comply with international rules in the years ahead. (IANS)

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