Meeting threw up many brilliant ideas,  but Prime Minister will take the final decision on the new body,  says Yashwant Sinha

NEW DELHI : No concrete picture emerged regarding the  new body which will replace the Planning Commission in two marathon parallel meetings held in the Yojana Bhawan here on Tuesday.

This was the first major consultation since after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in his Independence Day address to wind up the Planning Commission and replace it with a body in which the states have more say.

Former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha ducked questions on the ideas emerging from the meeting he chaired, except to tell reporters that lot many suggestions came up and they will be place before Modi to take the final decisions.

Those who attended the meetings included former ministers, former members of the Planning Commission and expert with a free flow of ideas on the framework of the new body to replace the 64-year old commission.

“We had all met in the context of the statement made by the Prime Minister from Red Fort. We have discussed what could be the new avatar of the Planning Commission,” Sinha said, adding that many brilliant ideas were thrown up, but final shape of the new body will be decided only by the PM.

When pressed to give idea of the suggestions made, Sinha said: “This is a work in progress, it’s not important to discuss upon the deliberations of today’s meeting, the outcome is important. And that rests with the PM. We also discussed upon how should the plan being allocated to states as well as upon the autonomy status to be granted to the new body.”

A former Planning Commission member said on condition of anonymity that the PM has not disclosed what he wants and hence the meeting of the experts that he attended was groping in the dark. “We suggested that the PM should be conveyed urgently that the state governments’ annual plans for the current fiscal year are stuck and some quick solution to be found to resolve this problem,” he said.

An idea came up that there can be a permanent finance commission that can handle the plan allocations of the states even while the new body takes shape.

Economist Rajiv Kumar, who chaired the experts meeting, said: “Old body is totally scrapped. The new body will come up and whatever body comes up, it will combine knowledge power along with some mandate for getting it executed.”

Those who participated in the twin simultaneous consultations, included former RBI governor Vimal Jalan, former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, former Planning Commission members Saumitra Chaudhuri and Dr Y K Alagh, journalists T N Ninan and M J Akbar, Dr. Nitin Desai, Dr. Shankar N. Acharya, Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Dr. Shekar Shah, Dr. Pronab Sen, Dr. T.C.A. Srinivasa Raghavan, Dr. Rajat Kathuria, Dr. Surjit Bhalla and Sumit Bose.

An official press release in the evening said: “Consultative meetings were held on Tuesday relating to the proposed new design and structure for the Planning Commission as part of consultations. Giving no further details, the press release quoted the PM’s I-Day address and how he later invited ideas from people on the shape of the new institution on a special open forum created on the website .

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