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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

‘Rogue’ Planning Commission unit choked of funds

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 24, 2014
First Published: 00:18 IST(24/8/2014) | Last Updated: 08:45 IST(24/8/2014)

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), which recommended the scrapping of its parent body, the Planning Commission, has found that its funding is being quietly choked.

The IEO is an attached office of the Commission and receives money from it for conducting evaluation studies on different programmes of the government.

On June 23, the IEO bit the hand that fed it: It made a report to the prime minister’s office (PMO) recommending the dissolution of the Commission on the grounds that the panel has defied attempts to reform it and has exceeded the brief stipulated in the cabinet resolution of 1950 that set it up.

The IEO also recommended that a new body called Reforms and Solutions Commission should be set up in place of the panel and its funds disbursement job should be given to the finance ministry and finance commission.

Read: Scrapping Planning Commission will not harm state's interest: BJP

Predictably, these recommendations have gone down badly with the Commission: speaking to HT, a senior official at the plan panel called into question the IEO’s right to evaluate its parent body.

An IEO official said flow of funds from the panel has dried up in the past couple of months and it has hit their evaluation studies. “The institutions (assigned studies) are asking for money to take forward the studies being done by us. But, the Planning Commission has been extremely slow in releasing the funds,” he said.

So much so that the IEO has not been able to release first instalment to these institutions, which started work on evaluation studies in five sectors from April 2014.

Read: Plan panel veterans to deliberate on its replacement on Aug 26

The IEO is conducting studies on schemes such as Public Distribution System, MGNREGA and Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana.

IEO’s director general Ajay Chhibber acknowledged that the pace of fund flow from the panel was slow but added that it could be because of normal bureaucratic delays.

The Commission’s financial advisor P K Pujari said that the panel had accepted IEO’s projection of Rs. 15.50 crore expenses for 2014-15 in full, and this had been approved by Parliament. Out of that amount, the IEO had spent about a fifth, or Rs. 3.15 crore, by the end of July, he said.

Read: 1,000-odd Planning Commission staff at sea


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