Min­is­ter on Job may Write Plan Panel Obit­u­ary

With the ap­point­ment of MoS with in­de­pen­dent charge, all key de­ci­sions are ex­pected to be taken by the min­is­ter

The Economic Times - - Economy -

YOGIMA SETH SHARMA

The Naren­dra Modi-led govern­ment’s un­prece­dented move to el­e­vate the post of min­is­ter of state for plan­ning by giv­ing an in­de­pen­dent charge to In­der­jit Singh Rao has raised doubts over whether the role of Plan­ning Com­mis­sion is be­ing re­duced to just a min­istry. The com­mis­sion has been headed by the prime min­is­ter as its chair­man ever since its in­cep­tion in 1950. With the ap­point­ment of a min­is­ter of state with an in­de­pen­dent charge, all key de­ci­sions re­lated to fund al­lo­ca­tion are ex­pected to be taken by the min­is­ter and an­swers to par­lia­men­tary ques­tions would be in his name and not the chair­man. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has ques­tioned the func­tion­ing of the com­mis­sion time and again over the years and there were in­di­ca­tions that he could re­struc­ture the com­mis­sion if he came to head the govern­ment. Even out­go­ing PM Man­mo­han Singh had, in his farewell speech to panel mem­bers on April 30, sought “re­ori­en­ta­tion” of the panel and em­pha- sised chang­ing its role in the “new world” of an open and lib­eral econ­omy. Plan­ning Com­mis­sion sec­re­tary Sind­hushree Khullar has, how­ever, said that the plan­ning min­istry and the com­mis­sion are two dif­fer­ent things and that the prime min­is­ter continues to be the chair­man of the com­mis­sion as has been the prac­tice. “This is a min­istry which re­sponds to the com­mis­sion’s de­lib­er­a­tions to Par­lia­ment,” Rao told the me­dia af­ter tak­ing charge of the plan­ning min­istry on Tues­day. The com­mis­sion was set up through a Cab­i­net res­o­lu­tion by In­dia’s first Prime Min­is­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru to as­sess funds avail­able with the govern­ment and how best they should be spent for so­cial and eco­nomic growth. It works un­der the over­all guid­ance of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil. The deputy chair­man and the full-time mem­bers of the com­mis­sion, as a com­pos­ite body, pro­vide ad­vice and guid­ance to the sub­ject di­vi­sions for the for­mu­la­tion of five-year plans, an­nual plans, state plans, mon­i­tor­ing plan pro­grammes, projects and schemes.

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