The Telegraph
Friday , July 18 , 2014
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Plan panel delay may hit states

- Annual provisions pending

Shillong, July 17: The delay in the reconstitution of the Planning Commission by the NDA government could put states in a dilemma as the annual plan sizes are yet to be finalised.

In his budget speech this year, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma had announced that the government had decided to budget a plan size of Rs 4,545 crore, which would include Rs 130 crore of assistance under the non- lapsable central pool of resources (NLCPR) and Rs 125 crore from the North Eastern Council (NEC).

With the proposed plan budget of Rs 4,545 crore, the increase in plan size over the preceding year is Rs 394 crore, an increase of 9.5 per cent, Sangma had said.

For 2013-14, Meghalaya’s annual plan size was fixed at Rs 4,151 crore by the commission.

However, even after nearly three months of the commencement of the financial year, the state, like any other, is yet to receive approval of the proposed plan size.

Until last year, chief ministers would flock to New Delhi to meet Planning Commission members for the finalisation of the plan size.

Like other states in India, Meghalaya, too, is greatly dependent on central funding for its projects. It is also one of the states under the “special category” status.

Today, Union minister of state (independent charge) for planning, statistics and programme implementation Rao Inderjit Singh, while submitting a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, said there was “no proposal under consideration of the government for abolishing the Planning Commission”.

Although there have been talks that the commission would be restructured, the commission is at present headless although the Prime Minister is its ex-officio chairman. The commission’s tenure is co-terminus with that of the government.

The Economic Survey of India 2013-14, which was tabled recently in Parliament, has differed with the way financial resources are being allocated.

“At present in India, a government department gets resources through two mechanisms: The budget process run by the ministry of finance and the budget process run by the Planning Commission. This leads to sub-optimal resource allocation as well as diffused accountability,” the survey stated.

Hence, the survey was of the opinion that a more effective budget process would be conducted in the language of outcomes, targets, and the cost of achieving alternative targets.

“The focus of a sound budget process would be upon outcomes as seen by citizens and measured by independent bodies, and not the internal activities of departments of government. Budgetary allocations should be associated with concrete targets for outcomes and departments held accountable for achieving these targets,” it added.

In spite of the delay in finalising the plan, government officials are optimistic that the impact of the delay would be minimal.

“The process (finalising the annual plan) has not begun, but it will not affect our programmes,” a government official said.