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Congress alleges center for involvement in Rs. 20,000 crore ‘Ujala’ scam; also demands independent probe.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claims that his government has distributed more than 21 crore LED bulbs, does not tell people that in the process, the government itself is making a mockery of its much-publicised 'Make in India' drive. "Crores of these LED bulbs, LED street lights, pumps and fans are made in China or in Taiwan"

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Representational image, courtesy: Wikimedia commons

New Delhi, March 27, 2017: The Congress party on Monday put the responsibility at the door of ruling NDA government accusing it for corruption in the process of procurement and distribution of ‘Ujala’ LED bulbs has given birth to a Rs 20,000-crore scam.

The party charged that the incumbent government was utilizing “dubious and questionable practices” for acquirement and dispersion of LED bulbs and requested an independent probe by a retired Supreme Court judge.

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“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claims that his government has distributed more than 21 crore LED bulbs, does not tell people that in the process, the government itself is making a mockery of its much-publicised ‘Make in India’ drive. “Crores of these LED bulbs, LED street lights, pumps and fans are made in China or in Taiwan,” said Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil.

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Gohil asserted that there was no transparency in the allotment of tender and acquirement of these LED bulbs, street lights, pumps and fans, among others.

“Cost of one such LED street light is about Rs 2,000. If we take into account the irregularities and fraud in the tendering process, this turns out to be a scam of at least Rs 20,000 crore,” he said.

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“While the Vigilance Commission mandates that such procurement should be publicised for RFQ (request for quotation) on the basis of merit and should be put on a government website, the Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (the procuring agency) puts it on their own private platforms for a short period, thus manipulating the entire process of tendering,” said Gohil.

“Although there are four Power Ministry PSUs involved in this entire process, the companies neither manufacture nor procure any part, not even a diode of the LED bulb. Instead, they procure from Chinese and other foreign companies,” he included in his statement.

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The Congress also pointed out that the Vigilance Commission guidelines categorically state that a third party audit has to be done after such procurement.

-prepared by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard

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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Faces First Defeat in Congress

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal.

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Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro arrives at the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the Parliamentary Front of Agriculture (FPA), at the Clube Naval, in Brasilia, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Brazil’s lower chamber handed right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro his first defeat in Congress on Tuesday, the day before his government presents its most important legislative proposal to rein in a gaping budget deficit and spur growth.

The house voted overwhelmingly to suspend an executive order by the Bolsonaro government that altered Brazil’s freedom of information law to broaden the number of officials allowed to designate data and documents as secret or ultra-secret.

Lawmakers voted 367 to 57 to fast-track a bill overturning the secrecy measure and government whips were unable to muster votes to avoid defeat.

The bill must still be voted on by the Senate, but the reversal showed that Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, has not yet been able to organize a coalition in Congress to back his legislative agenda.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro will send to Congress his plan to overhaul Brazil’s generous and costly pension system that eats up more than half of federal spending and is the main factor behind an unsustainable budget deficit.

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FILE – Gustavo Bebianno in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 29, 2018. VOA

Approval of pension reform is vital for the recovery of investor confidence in Latin America’s largest economy.

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal involving campaign financing for some of his party’s congressional candidates in the October elections.

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The ousted minister, Gustavo Bebianno, was instrumental in getting Bolsonaro elected but had a run-in with one of the president’s sons, triggering the weeks-old government’s first cabinet crisis.

In a note to clients, analysts at Eurasia Group said the scandal indicated the administration’s political team was in disarray, but they still expected the pension reform to get passed, albeit in a less ambitious version. (VOA)