States demand larger role in new planning set-up

States demand larger role in new planning set-up

Most chief ministers said on Sunday that the institution proposed to replace the 64-year-old Planning Commission should have more representation from states and involve domain experts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who invited all the chief ministers for consultation on the future of the Planning Commission, extensively quoted his predecessor Manmohan Singh to drive home the point that the body set up in 1950 needed to be restructured.

Modi pitched forth the idea of “cooperative federalism” and the concept of “Team India” that comprises the prime minister and chief ministers, the Union council of ministers and members of the bureaucracy in the states and the Centre.

He quoted from Singh’s farewell address to the Planning Commission on April 30, 2014, wherein the then prime minister had spoken of a “new role” for the plan body which has “no futuristic vision” in the “increasingly liberalised and open economy”.
“‘Team India’ should be reflected in the alternative structure of the Planning Commission,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley quoted Modi as saying at the meeting.

Jaitley said there was a “larger consensus” among the participants that the context in which the plan panel was established has changed and there was a need to “decentralise power and planning”.

Briefing reporters after the day-long consultations, he said most chief ministers favoured an alternative structure which would have participation of the Centre, states and experts.

“Almost all the states wanted lot more flexibility (in implementing schemes) as against the control and command structure,” he said. “A few felt that the present Planning Commission could evolve into that structure.”

The chief ministers of Congress-ruled states opposed the dismantling of the body established by the former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru through a Cabinet resolution. “You guessed it right,” replied Jaitley when asked whether the “few” he referred to belonged to the Congress-ruled states.

Jaitley gave no timeline on the announcement of the alternative structure to the Planning Commission. “The government will take a considered view after the consultations,” he said. Jaitley gave a similar answer to a question on the future of the Five Year Plans.

However, there were indications that the shape of the new structure, which could also see the involvement of the private sector, may be firmed up by January 26 next year.

Another sore point with many chief ministers was the Centrally-sponsored schemes. “There cannot be a uniform scheme that applies to all the states,” was the view expressed by many chief ministers.

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