Posts Tagged ‘centre’

There is a strong case to empower and hold States accountable while the Centre focuses on policy…

February 19, 2011

India has seen 11 5-year plans go by and there is little doubt that a lot has been achieved. But as we get into the throes of getting our 12th five year plan in place, it might be good to reflect on Nitish’s recommendation. In the post independence era, Central schemes might have been the way to go primarily necessitated by weak local infrastructure and governance. That is no longer the case today and with States having increasingly demonstrated that they can shoulder the responsibility of development, it might be time for the folks in Planning Commission to let the States set the priorities for what they consider vital in their development trajectory. The Centre can still set the national policy and armed with an annual collection in excess of of 3.7 lakh crores in taxes, it wields substantial power to ensure that the Sates follow through on their promises…

Have faith in us, end central schemes: Nitish

NEW DELHI: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday asked the central government to abolish all the schemes it sponsors and confine itself to broad policy complemented with technical and financial support to states, setting the tone for a radical shift in India’s economic policy.

“The Centre needs to trust the states and confine itself to broad policymaking,” said Kumar, credited with returning governance and growth to India’s poorest state, at the Economic Times Roundtable for Combating Food Inflation that focussed on tapping the farm potential of eastern India.

The nearly hundred schemes that more than 25 central ministries and departments oversee are the showpiece of the United Progressive Alliance government’s development and pro-poor credentials. The call for decentralised planning is equally significant because centralised planning has been one of the cornerstones of India’s socialist economy. The large number of centrally-sponsored schemes adds to the confusion in their implementation, said Kumar said at the event that discussed concerted efforts to boost farm produce in eastern India.

Kumar’s alternative system envisions states implementing schemes and the centre acting as a monitoring and advisory agency. The central government should provide policy direction, planning prowess and technical expertise, leaving the states to chalk out a long-term development plan for themselves, said Kumar.

The centre frames and almost entirely funds centrally-sponsored schemes. Kumar has proposed the current system of the centre deciding almost every thing from prioirty areas and the allocation should be replaced with a more participatory process.

“We can give them good governance and they should tell us what they expect of us. They can fix targets and leave it to us to achieve them.”

He suggested working groups comprising representatives of the states and centre and independent experts to prepare focus areas, schemes, its beneficiaries and the micro-level impact.

Though the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre is unlikely to easily yield ground to the states, Kumar’s proposal found resonance in some policymaking quarters.

Planning Commission member Mihir Shah said there is a lot of merit in Kumar’s perspective. “We at the Planning Commission also feel that the wide proliferation of CSS (centrally-sponsored schemes) needs to be looked at,” he said, adding that The Twelfth Plan will attempt to rationalise the number of schemes and give more flexibility to states.

Referring to agriculture, Kumar said though Bihar is being touted as the center of the next green revolution, the state needs firm and long-term policy assistance from the central government to make it a reality.

“There is talk about Bihar having a lot of potential but there should be policy assistance from the centre,” he said. Kumar also demanded allocate adequate resources from the centre to harness the potential of eastern states. He called attention to a new sub-scheme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana that was launched with an outlay of 400 crore for bringing green revolution in eastern India. “It is a small amount compared to the development deficit in these states,” he said. Likewise, the launch of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act is welcome but it is creating labour crisis for agriculture. Instead, the scheme should direct agriculture labour in the fields sharing the costs with farmers.

Kumar also lamented the neglect of Bihar by central government agencies. Food Corporation of India has 73.73 lakh MT storage capacities in Punjab whereas it is only about 6.72 lakh MT in Bihar. Similarly, Central Warehousing Corporation has built a storage capacity of 6.95 lakh MT in Punjab whereas it is only 1.26 lakh MT in Bihar. These agencies must create additional storage capacity in the state, he said.

The Bihar CM outlined various initiatives in the areas of improving the quality of seeds, adding value to agricultural produce and encouraging marketing and invited the private sector to take advantage of and complement these initiatives. Kumar told private companies that law and order has improved in the state.

(By Devika Banerji)