ED completely independent, not used as political tool: Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Saturday that the Enforcement Directorate (ED), India's main government investigation agency, is "completely independent" in its approach and work. While refuting the allegations that it is being used by the government for political purposes, she said ED pursues predicate offenses with substantial proof. Sitharaman made these claims in Washington DC during her official visit to the United States.
Why does this story matter?
- The ED and other national investigative agencies stepped up their efforts this year to investigate corruption charges made against opposition leaders in a number of states, including West Bengal and Delhi.
- Political parties denounced the conduct as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) "ploy" to "harass" political rivals.
- The saffron party, on the other hand, asserted that it never interfered with any investigation agency's operations.
What exactly did Sitharaman say?
"ED is completely independent in what it does, it is an agency that follows predicate offenses," Sitharaman said. "There are instances which are so standing out and if ED goes there, it's because of some prima-facie evidence in their hands," she said addressing the media on Saturday in Washington where she attended the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Will have to work together: Sitharaman on India's G20 priorities
The finance minister also spoke about India's priorities for G20 as it's assuming the presidency in December. "We have had bilateral discussions with many G20 members. We're taking presidentship at a time when there are a lot of challenges," she said. "We will have to work together with the membership to see how best we can navigate the whole thing," Sitharaman said
Finance Minister defends India's use of coal for energy needs
Sitharaman also defended India's decision to shift to coal for energy production and other needs. "The western world has seen countries moving to coal, Austria has already said the same. In the UK, one of the oldest legacy thermal units is back again," she said adding that gas can either be unaffordable or not available.
Blames geo-political tension for dropping Indian Rupee
The finance minister said that the rise in geopolitical tensions is to blame for the value of the Indian Rupee falling and the actions being taken to stop the decline. However, she said measures were being taken to deal with it. "At the same time, the trade deficit is increasing and is increasing everywhere. But, we are keeping an eye on it," she added.