The three-tier panchayats will be given maximum freedom in implementing their Plans and rules will be simplified for this, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.

The Chief Minister told the media after Wednesday's Cabinet meeting that the panchayats would be able to use untied funds according to local requirements. However, freedom in using the funds would be accompanied by performance requirements. Plan funds would have to be expended by March 15. As announced earlier, Five Year Plans would be introduced for local self-governments from the next financial year.

The Cabinet had discussed the Annual Plan of the State for the next financial year. The Planning Board had proposed a Plan of Rs.14,010 crore and this would be approved by the next Cabinet. The Cabinet had also discussed the progress in the implementation of the current year's Plan. Expenditure close to last year's would be achievable despite delays on account of elections and other reasons, Mr. Chandy said.

The Finance and Local Self-government Departments would examine the proposal that 1,790 posts should be created in three-tier panchayats to speed up Plan implementation. The proposal would then be placed before the Cabinet after scrutiny by the Finance Minister.