Planning Ministry is jobless, so just dismantle it: House panel
“The committee would recommend that NITI Aayog should be made an independent body while dismantling the Ministry of Planning as such, which is now left without any significant function or mandate,” Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance said in its report tabled in both the Houses.
In another report, the panel expressed its reservations against earmarking Rs 20,000 crore in the Budget for the current fiscal for allocations to be made to states on the recommendations of NITI Aayog. The panel said it was “at a loss as to understand the deployment and utilisation of such a large corpus, which will be disbursed on the recommendation the NITI Aayog that has replaced the Planning Commission.”
It further said that if the newly-constituted NITI Aayog is to perform allocative function similar to the function attached to erstwhile Planning Commission, “it is not clear as to why the Planning Commission was dismantled in the first place.” The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) was created by the government on January 1 with a Cabinet resolution to replace the erstwhile Planning Commission.
However, the Ministry of Planning continues to exist and is playing the role of an interface between NITI Aayog and the Parliament. The panel has also recommended that the Aadhaar scheme presently under Ministry of Planning should be moved to the Ministry of Home Affairs for a better convergence of the UID and NPR schemes.
National Population Register (NPR) is a digital database of citizens which is being implemented by the Home Ministry. In the present scenario, under the NPR project, the Home Ministry will issue the national multipurpose identification card to the entire population besides enrolling people and collecting their biometrics details.
The UIDAI is also enrolling and collecting biometrics data of the residents in 24 States/UTs. It would generate Aadhaar numbers for entire population using the NPR data also. Similarly the NPR will issue the identity cards bearing Aahaar numbers using data collected by it and UIDAI.
The panel observed that out of the total Plan expenditure of Rs 2,114.52 crore of the Ministry of Planning for the current fiscal, a major chunk of Rs 2,000 crore has been made available to UIDAI.
The committee also recommended that the National Rainfed Area Authority should be transferred to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation instead of shelving the project altogether.
No plan to divest stake in Air India & BSNL, Govt assures Parliament
The Government on Friday said that it has no plan to divest its stake in ailing state-run telecom firm BSNL and national carrier Air India, which have been incurring huge losses. "At this time, there is no proposal to disinvest BSNL and Air India," Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Notably, both the firms have been running into losses for several years and their employees have been protesting against any move to privatise the firms. Sinha was replying to a question on whether government plans to include public sector enterprises such as BSNL and Air India along with steel plants in the disinvestment list. For the full fiscal 2015-16, the government hopes to garner Rs 69,500 crore through stake sale in PSUs. Of this, Rs 41,000 crore is estimated to come from minority stake sale in PSUs and the remaining Rs 28,500 crore from strategic stake sale. "In order to attain the stiff disinvestment target of 2015-16, the government is making efforts to fast track the disinvestment approval process," Sinha said. He further informed the house that the disinvestment receipts fell short of target in the last three fiscal years.
In 2014-15, government garnered Rs 24,277 crore through disinvestment in SAIL and Coal India, which was short of the target of Rs 36,925 crore. For 2013-14, it fell short of target at Rs 15,819 crore as against actual target of Rs 40,000 crore.