By Anthony Rozario
The Central government’s decision to abolish the Planning Commission has drawn criticism from former finance minister Yashwant Sinha who said the move would affect devolution of funds to the state.
Speaking at a function organised by the Pune International Center on Saturday, he said, “The move will also affect the distribution of planned and non-planned expenditure. Though the Planning Commission has been abolished, the work planning and devolution of funds to the state is intact,” he said.
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Talking about the politics of policy framing in the country, Sinha said it was more an outcome of poll promises rather than careful deliberation. “I was campaiging in my constituency when my car got stuck on a kuccha road. It was on my suggestion that the then prime minister introduced Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana for constructing rural roads,” he said.
Maintaining that policy framing in India is mostly ‘adhoc’ and arbitrary, he called for a greater partnership between the Centre and states and suggested to empower local bodies to formulate their own policies to ensure accountability.
While Sinha described the 1991 economic reforms as a game changer in the country’s policy formation, he labelled the nuclear policy adopted by the previous NDA regime as the second most crucial juncture.
“The 1991 reforms were a game changer. These were involuntary reforms advanced in response to a situation when India was reduced to just 15 days of forex reserve”, he said.
Referring to his tenure as a minister, Sinha pointed out the tendency among politicians to give support when they are in the government and oppose when they are in the opposition. “When I was a minister, I had proposed 26 per cent in FDI, while the Congress asked me for an assurance that I wouldn’t raise it beyond 26 per cent. After 5 years, when P Chidambaram became the finance minister he proposed to increase FDI to 49 pe cent,” he added.