The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lean & mean slogan for Tenth Plan

New Delhi, Sept. 30: The Tenth Five-year Plan, which is scheduled to be cleared by the full Planning Commission and the Union Cabinet soon, has drawn up a huge wish list. On the agenda are pruning of Centrally-sponsored schemes; overhauling of the civil services and induction of professionals on contract; a contributory pension system which would reduce the Centre’s wage bill; independent regulators for coal, railways and aviation, besides denationalisation of the coal sector; and removal of all subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene within three years.

The Plan, which has taken nearly a year-and-a-half to draw up, has reduced the GDP growth rate marginally from 8 per cent to 7.9 per cent, on account of the recession which continues to dog industry and the erratic monsoon which could affect farm growth this year.

It has pegged the current domestic saving rate at 26.8 per cent, more than 3.5 per cent higher than before and put a high investment rate of 28.4 per cent. It has, however, estimated robust export and import growth rates of 12.4 per cent and 17.1 per cent respectively, taking into account chances of a global economic recovery and higher investments in infrastructure here.

The Plan has, however, dropped earlier controversial moves to downsize the government by winding up ministries handling state subjects such as water resources, irrigation, agriculture, social welfare and review of the loan-to-grant ratio for transferring resources to state governments.

These contentious issues, which had been opposed by large numbers of NDA ministers and had ruffled feathers of smaller partners like the Biju Janata Dal and Shiv Sena, were dropped from an earlier draft cleared last year. However, the Plan does speak of downsizing government by chopping off departments which have become redundant in the new liberalised scenario, which implies that it is targeting departments such as steel, mines and chemicals.

It also wants to bring in a system of inducting professionals and specialists on contract into the administrative system. It had earlier sought pruning of the IAS itself, a move which the bureaucrats had sorely resented.

The Plan, which will turn into a policy document once passed by the Cabinet, also calls for bringing in a new contributory pension system for government servants, which would help prune the government’s wage bill.

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