The Telegraph
Tuesday , June 24 , 2014
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Plan panel role review

New Delhi, June 23: A high-level government panel has questioned the existence of the Planning Commission in its present form, suggesting that it should confine itself to just a propagator of cutting-edge ideas and delegate its implementing power to others.

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) — the panel set up by the previous UPA government more than three years ago — has called for drastic reforms that will whittle down the powers of the Planning Commission.

The IEO has found that the plan panel oversteps its authority by acting as a “control commission”, particularly its influence on the allocation of funds to the state governments, even though it was set up in 1950 by a cabinet resolution as a mere recommending body.

This raises constitutional concerns as the framers of the Constitution created the Finance Commission for this purpose, the IEO assessment note said.

The IEO only began to assess the effectiveness of government programmes and institutional policies from February this year. It submitted the assessment report on the Planning Commission to the Prime Minister earlier this month.

“It is clear that the Planning Commission in its current form and function is a hindrance not a help to India’s development. It is not easy to reform such a large ossified body and it would be better to replace it with a new body that is needed to assist states in ideas, to provide long-term thinking and to help cross-cutting reforms,” IEO director-general Ajay Chhibber said.

The IEO recommended that the plan panel’s role as an allocator of resources to the states should be taken up by the Finance Commission.