Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced scrapping of the Planning Commission, there was unanimity among experts that the panel needs to be reinvented.
In the first meeting of experts held on Tuesday, it was unanimously agreed the new body should have a statutory backing to enable implementation of its suggestions by ministries. The meeting was called on the directions of the PMO to discuss the framework of the new body to replace the planning commission.
The closed-door meeting kicked off with a background presentation on the structure of the panel and a five-point agenda that included function of the new institution, its role in allocation of resources to ministries and states, structured mechanism for interaction between the new institution and the states and central ministries.
“Everybody agreed that the panel had lost on providing expert advice as those with domain knowledge had been replaced by civil servants in the last 10 years,” said one of the participants, not willing to be quoted. He also pointed out that the experts suggested that there should be a ban on posting civil servants in the new body and instead experts should be hired from different fields.
On the key function of the panel to disburse funds to states and appraise proposals, many experts suggested that the job can be given to the finance ministry with some “checks” and “balances”.
One of them said that vesting money disbursal with the finance ministry had two distinct disadvantages. First was that the ministry would become very “powerful” and second was a possible conflict of interest as both jobs of revenue generation and disbursal would be with one arm of the government.