| Nitish Kumar: Plan ahead |
Patna, April 24: The state government is all set to press for entitlement-based planning at the Planning Commission level.
The decision is likely to be finalised at a meeting scheduled tomorrow in which chief minister Nitish Kumar would review the proposal, which the state government would send to the Planning Commission that has initiated the process for preparing the draft of the 12th Five-Year Plan and is seeking suggestions from states on this front. The 11th Five-Year Plan period would end on March 31, 2012.
Sharing details with The Telegraph, a senior state government official, preferring anonymity, said: “Entitlement-based planning is one of the best ways to address the issue of regional disparity, as under this method of planning, any scheme for a particular region would be formulated on the basis of the entitlement of the region concerned.”
At present, planning is scheme-based under which plans are chalked out for different schemes and allocation to states by the Centre is done on this basis. Developed states garner a good chunk of plan money due to better infrastructure, which allows them to have a better absorption capacity of funds compared to underdeveloped states with poor infrastructure.
Bihar stands, said the official, for formulation of norms of major sectors and formulation of plans in accordance with these norms so that the states that lag behind on these norms could get more funds for meeting these.
Citing an example, the official said: “One can take the case of primary health centres (PHCs), the norms for which say that there should be one PHC per lakh persons. Going by the latest Census report, Bihar should have over 1,000 PHCs to meet the norm, whereas the state has just over 500. The Planning Commission, while formulating the plan, should ensure that the state gets necessary funds to meet this norm.”
He said the same should be applied in case of education, roads and other major sectors.
Terming the proposed move of the state government a good one, economist N.K. Choudhary said: “Bihar’s stand should be supported by all, as entitlement-based planning is the only way to address the regional disparity in the country. Without achieving a basic minimum for all the states, the country cannot think of inclusive growth.”
He said the present system of planning had many flaws. It had allowed the growth of regional disparity with developed states garnering the major chunk of plan money owing to their better performance and absorption capacity.
Incidentally, as far as state-level planning is concerned, Bihar has shifted to entitlement-based planning from the current fiscal (2011-12). Under the new system, funds to the districts would be released on the basis of entitlement under four broad categories — individual, family, institutional and area based entitlements.