Modi to promote co-op federalism

Modi to promote co-op federalism

The effort to replace the Planning Commission is to foster cooperative federalism and in view of the changing roles of the states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would tell the Chief Ministers’ conference on Sunday.

Modi is expected to communicate his belief that states have emerged over the years as growth engines and should be regarded as equal partners, according to sources.
“Empowering the states has been one of our critical beliefs,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said a day before the conference. “I do hope that after tomorrow’s (Sunday) meeting, whatever decision will be taken, probably states will be in a better position,” he said at a function.

Modi will tell the chief ministers that states have complained how the plan
panel, which approves their annual plans, misused its discretionary powers and took biased and politically motivated decisions.

The Independent Evaluation Office set up by the Commission under Ajay Chibber, the Stanford educated former assistant secretary of the United Nations, also concluded that the plan body was getting redundant.

On Sunday, Planning Secretary Sindhushree Khullar would kick-off the conference with a presentation on functions and contours of the new institution.

The chief ministers will then be asked to give their views on the points highlighted in the concept note, prepared in consultation with experts, former members and senior officials of the panel.

The new panel is expected to have eight to ten regular or executive members representing the states, while the remaining members could be drafted in from sectors like environment, finance, engineers and science.

The Congress is likely to oppose the replacement of the Plan Panel, which it sees as an attempt by the NDA government to dismantle the Nehruvian legacy.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said two days ago: “We are not against restructuring of any organisation in the interest of better co-ordination or governance. However the very agenda of the NDA government seems to be killing the Planning Commission.”

The Congress high command is said to have instructed the Congress chief ministers to contest the proposal, saying the government's intention was not in the spirit of good governance.

One of the Congress chief ministers, Kerala’s Oommen Chandy, said on the eve of the conference that any new setup should be more effective in further strengthening the Centre-state relations.

Modi had announced in his Independence Day speech that the new body would be trusted with generating ideas for growth and development based on creative thinking, public-private partnership and optimum utilisation of resources.

Besides   tapping the youth power, Modi also envisages the new panel to promote aspirations of states seeking development.  Making a brief intervention during Question Hour in Lok Sabha last week, Modi had said the government was planning to involve experts and those who could provide new ideas to redefine and restructure the Planning Commission.

Earlier, Minister for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh said the Planning Commission has to come to grips with the emerging social realities to reinvent and make itself more relevant.
The Panel should effectively align the planning process with economic reforms and its consequences, particularly for the poor, the minister said.

Singh said government wishes to constantly review its planning apparatus since the role of the states and their economies  have been undergoing a sea change in recent decades.

"India is now an emerging economy in an increasingly globalised world. The economy has now fundamentally changed with key sectors being open to foreign investment (leading to) the evolution of a vibrant dynamic private sector contributing substantially to growth," he said.

The state therefore has moved away from allocating government resources in a command and control ecosystem to a complex role involving mediating through policy action, creating favourable investment climate, providing public goods and essential services and direct intervention in providing social security and essential entitlements of food, health and education and livelihoods to vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Modi is said to have chosen the name the Policy Commission (Neeti Aayog) for the new body, which may be  headed by the Prime Minister as the chairman’s position would be ex-officio.

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