Even as states ruled by the Congress party remain skeptical about the functioning of newly set up National Institute of Transforming India (NITI)) Aayog with uncertainty over funds allocation, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who will be visiting New Delhi on Monday, said he was optimistic about its efficacy.
"The government has not yet received any concrete details about NITI Aayog so I can't comment on the matter. However, the state earlier received assistance from the Planning Commission and I hope the new body will protect the interests of Himachal Pradesh," he said while talking to reporters here on Sunday.
"NITI Aayog must ensure the pace of development and the pattern, which has a grants and loan ratio of 90:10, should not be changed," he had earlier tweeted regarding recasting the plan panel as NITI Aayog.
At his earlier meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, Virbhadra had expressed concern over the issues facing the hill states, saying there should not be a "uniform yardstick" to allocate funds.
Doing away with the Planning Commission, the central government on Thursday announced the formation of a new body - NITI Aayog - to replace it. In the new body's governing council, the hill states have also found a place besides union territories to chalk out the policies and plans for the country with involving state's interest.
It now appears the central government will do away with funds allocation and five-year plans, which was major part of planning commission's working. The new body seems likely to focus on the policy framing of new government.
"If NITI Aayog would not have discretionary budget, states like Himachal Pradesh will suffer," a finance department official said.
The state has already been suffering due to the move and no-availability of any forum where it could plead its case in wake of growing fiscal crunch. In fiscal 2012-13 the central government's assistance amounted to of Rs. 1,400 crore, falling to Rs. 1,350 crore in 2013-14. The state's budget for the current fiscal (2014-15) is Rs. 2, 3613 crore.
Current pattern of state funding
Of the total budget plan funds is 26% Central sector schemes (41% of the total plan funds) allocated to 70 ministries/departments of the central government.
Central assistance to state plans (59% of the total plan funds). This is further divided into two broad categories: Block grants to state (15% of the plan funds).