Planners push for governance

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By R. SURYAMURTHY
  • Published 20.08.11
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Ahluwalia: Focal point

New Delhi, Aug. 19: At a time when protests against corruption have put the government in a fix, the Planning Commission has picked governance as the key to successful implementation of flagship programmes.

The plan panel has incorporated its concerns on governance deficit in its approach paper to the 12th Five Year Plan, which the commission, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will discuss tomorrow.

“Governance deficit is a hurdle to the key programmes and there should be efforts to improve governance,” Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, said.

The draft paper states that the failure to translate the government’s flagship programmes into reality can be attributed to “flaws in the architecture of implementation”.

The approach paper, which has a full chapter on governance, said, “The lack of success of flagship programmes in India is the problem created by governance deficit.”

The approach paper calls for greater participation of civil society in the implementation of such programmes.

“Whether it is capacity building of personnel or strengthening of local institutions, civil society has a crucial role to play. The government must strongly encourage partnerships with civil society.”

The paper said only those programmes where the help of social mobilisers was taken had been successfully implemented .

Further, the flagship programmes should not be a “one size fits all” prescription, but should be flexible, considering the socio-economic and agro-ecological diversity of the country.

“Developing a menu of specific designs and technology options would be the way forward for programmes such as the total sanitation campaign.”

Ahluwalia said the strategies must be focused on citizens’ perspectives rather than only on activities and budgets of ministries.

“There should be a stock taking of the existing organisations — their purpose, their linkage with others and their performance — to tighten accountability.”

The panel feels total quality management should be introduced at all levels. Delivery and policy functions need to be separated in government ministries; otherwise both can become ineffective.

“A delivery organisation should be set up as specialised agencies with a clear mandate, resources, and accountability. They should be professionally managed by people with requisite domain expertise. They could be accountable to ministers. While they may be attached to ministries, they should be autonomous in nature,” the approach paper said.

Growth target

The plan panel is expected to set a growth target of 9 per cent for the 12th Plan, despite the global economic downturn.

“The growth target of 9 per cent could be achieved but would require some critical and tough policy decisions. Also, global uncertainties and stability concerns would affect growth,” Ahluwalia said.

During the current fiscal, the economy is likely to see a growth of over 8 per cent in gross domestic product (GDP) against 8.5 per cent in 2010-11. The ongoing Eleventh Plan had initially aimed at an average growth rate of 9 per cent. However, the target was scaled down to 8.1 per cent during the mid-term appraisal of the plan because of the adverse impact of the global downturn.

The draft approach to the 12th Plan is in favour of continuing the expenditure pattern adopted by the UPA government — to prioritise allocations to social sectors such as health, education, agriculture, water and infrastructure. The meeting of the commission will also discuss land acquisition, coal linkage and the financial condition of power firms, skill development and inflation.