The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM path for speedy reforms

New Delhi, July 22: The Union cabinet is likely to approve a proposal tomorrow to place under the Prime Minister’s supervision all policy issues for speeding up development and economic reforms.

A proposal for a special economic package for development of backward states and backward districts in more developed states is also likely to be cleared.

The cabinet move is significant as the government has now gone into election mode. The ruling NDA is keen to project development as a poll plank ahead of next year’s general elections.

K.C. Pant, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, said a proposal containing the “priority agenda” on the economic front had already been submitted for Cabinet approval.

If cleared, all policy issues relating to power reforms, amendment of the Companies Act and setting up the competition commission will be handled directly by the Prime Minister.

To speed up implementation, major projects — like the Prime Minister’s dream national highway project and power projects — will be closely monitored by the cabinet secretary.

Four committees with chief ministers as members will also be set up, Pant said. These will deal with removing international trade barriers, reforms in governance with special emphasis on e-governance, creating an investor-friendly climate, and financial and administrative empowerment of panchayati raj institutions.

Pant conceded the GDP growth targets set in the tenth plan had not been realised. But he insisted there was no need to revise the target downwards as the growth rate would pick up in the next three years.

He said the good monsoon this year was bound to spur the growth rate. The export performance and industrial growth rate had improved and there was “buoyancy in the air”, he said.

The high population growth rate and the increasing numbers joining the workforce were cause for concern, Pant said. Therefore, the thrust was to create more employment along with population control.

He rued that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were lagging behind in population control.

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