The Planning Commission has decided to remove references to “crony capitalism” from the 12th Plan document, following loud protests from cabinet ministers at the panel’s meeting last week.
The ministers were offended that the original plan document had conceded to crony capitalism being at play even during the UPA’s regime, particularly at a time when the government was battling charges pertaining to 2G spectrum and coal mines.
“The contentious elements, as desired by the Prime Minister, have been removed,” confirmed a top Planning Commission functionary. “We don’t expect any more controversies.”
The 12th Plan (2012-17) document, shortened by 200 pages to around 1,600 on the direction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is likely to be considered by the cabinet this week.
At the full Planning Commission meeting on September 15, commerce minister Anand Sharma had objected to a portion of the original 12th Plan document, which stated that “discretionary allocation of natural resources, such as coal and spectrum, has led to crony capitalism”.
It said that allocation for profit-making commercial activity involves some “implicit rent” if the price at which the transfer takes place is not market-determined.
Backing Sharma, the Prime Minister had asked panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia to be cautious while using such words in official documents.
According to officials, major changes have also been made in the health chapter of the 12th Plan to ally fears of health minister Gulam Nabi Azad that the plan was trying to downgrade the relevance of his ministry in executing health sector schemes.
Azad was livid that the document had referring to his ministry’s role as “peer reviewer” in execution of the health plan by the state governments, and said that the panel wanted his ministry to “close down”.
Union minister Kapil Sibal, meanwhile, had his reservations with regard to a portion that allowed profit-making by educational institutions. Sibal wanted the panel’s suggestion to be removed as it was against the stated policy of the government.
The panel has now rephrased the portion, stating that the profits should be ploughed back into the education system.