Panneerselvam wants stronger role for States in plan panel

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:36 pm IST

Published - December 08, 2014 12:14 am IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Sunday called for a stronger role for the States, commensurate with their growing clout, in the new institution envisaged to replace the Planning Commission.

Speaking at the meeting of the Chief Ministers convened in New Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the shape of the new institution, Mr. Panneerselvam tore into the Planning Commission’s style of functioning and the existing model of power-sharing.

“The general approach of the Union Planning Commission and of the Central Ministries to proposals and suggestions from the State governments has been arrogant and condescending. The States have been placed at the whim and mercy of different Ministries in Delhi to receive approvals and sanctions… ,” he said.

This was despite the steady shift in a “real political and economic power away from the Centre.”

Mr. Panneerselvam proposed that the Chief Ministers be given representation in the new body, and the views of the States be heard at multiple levels for a truly participatory functioning of the body.

Given the profound changes that had occurred in the economy ever since it was opened up, the new institution should create sector-wise vision documents with a long-term perspective, he said. However, the medium-term five-year planning remained relevant. “The Perspective and Five Year Plans should give the States sufficient elbow room to develop their own long- and medium-range plans,” he said, pitching for the scrapping of annual plan discussions that had become “ritualistic.”

As for the current model of fund flow from the Centre to the States, he said that at least 50 per cent of the aggregate resources should be shared under Article 270 of the Constitution, based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission. “There has always been a lack of transparency in the manner in which plan funds are transferred to the States. These flows have never been predictable, and they have tended to be discretionary and, at times, discriminatory,” he said, criticising the Commission for resorting to mid-year reductions in allocations in an arbitrary manner.

Expressing Tamil Nadu’s reservations about the direct benefit transfer, Mr. Panneerselvam, recalling the former Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa’s views, said the State was opposed to “the subsidy element under the Public Distribution System, including kerosene and fertilizers, where the concern is not just the quantum of subsidy but, more importantly, access to and timely availability of commodities.”

“Tamil Nadu also strongly urges the Government of India to effect transfer of cash to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries only through the State governments as this would be an administratively sound practice, given the complexities of different schemes and varying Central and State shares, and in keeping with the spirit of federalism which forms the backdrop to these discussions,” he said.

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