India

Plan panel substitute to get more teeth, legal backing

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 31, 2014 02:31 IST

The new think-tank that will replace the Soviet-style Planning Commission will have statutory backing to ensure that its recommendations are implemented and will be accountable to Parliament, government sources told HT.

The think-tank will not have as much power as the plan panel but it will be able to implement its recommendations across ministries, said those privy to the proposals being considered by the government.

“The Prime Minister’s biggest criticism of the planning commission was that its functions were not well defined and, therefore, it overstepped its brief on a regular basis,” said a senior government official. “That would be corrected with the formation of the new body having a clear mandate and functions.”

The new think-tank will act as a multi-sector advisory body to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will have statutory powers to enable it to implement policies on behalf of the Prime Minister’s office.

It will also perform the function of a central body that will work with different ministries and state governments for policies initiated by the Centre and will monitor their progress.

“The PMO would be calling a meeting with experts from different state governments to discuss this aspect very soon,” said a senior plan panel official. 

Officials said the new body will need to be backed by strong laws if it is to prove effective.

“Just defining powers of the think-tank in the guidelines may not be adequate,” an official said, adding that providing legal backing to the body could be the best way to empower it. 

Officials said this will also ensure the new body is accountable to Parliament. It will then have to periodically submit its reports to Parliament and will be open for review by parliamentary standing committees.

However, the new body is unlikely to be given the job of disbursing funds to state governments or appraising Central schemes.

Many feel the decision to scrap the panel was hurried and the government did not clearly spell out the details of the alternative.

 

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