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‘Reduce Over-arching Role of Plan Panel’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi got an unexpected ally in former Finance Minister P Chidambaram when the latter favoured the Central government’s reported move to reduce the over-arching role of the Planning Commission.

Published: 21st June 2014 08:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st June 2014 08:46 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday got an unexpected ally in former Finance Minister P Chidambaram when the latter favoured the Central government’s reported move to reduce the over-arching role of the Planning Commission.

Asked to comment on reports that the commission may be dismantled or downsized, Chidambaram said: “My personal opinion is that the Planning Commission should be left as a much more limited body tasked with drawing up prospective plans.

At the moment it is too big, flabby and unwieldy.”

It is not unknown that the Planning Commission headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a trusted aide of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, played a large, decisive role in the UPA-I and II governments.

He not only used to be present at the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs meetings but also had several run-ins with ministers, most notably Kamal Nath.

The first indications of the curtailing of the plan panel’s role became evident when Modi chose not to name a Deputy Chairperson for the commission, which is headed by the Prime Minister.

The Deputy Chairperson, whenever appointed, will no longer attend the meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

The new government seems to be of the view that the Planning Commission is only adding to the red tape and essentially a relic of the “licence raj” and hence serves no purpose in the liberalised economic scene.

Even Manmohan, in his farewell speech, had called for a review of the planning body’s role in an increasingly open economy.

Ever since it was set up in 1950 by a Cabinet resolution to coordinate and allocate the government’s resources efficiently, the commission has often been attacked as a bunch of “arm-chair advisers” who fail to grasp ground realities.



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