|Annual Report 1999-2000|
Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA)
1. The effectiveness of public intervention in obtaining developmental goals is very closely linked to the efficiency of delivery mechanisms and the institutional environment on which it is founded. We have to not only find adequate resources for the priority sectors and programmes but, at the same time, make every effort to strengthen the institutional framework with a view to improve the implementation of public programmes on the one hand and create a conductive environment for private initiatives, on the other. In this regard, the Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) exercises for the Ninth Plan has been initiated by the Planning Commission. The primary objective of the Appraisal will be to assess the possibility of reaching the targets of the Ninth Plan, identify the areas of significant shortfall and the reasons therefore, so as to arrive at a basis for evolving appropriate Policy Package/Plan Strategies for mid-term corrections in the implementation of the Plan. The Editorial Committee of the Planning Commission, constituted for the Mid-Term Appraisal Document, is in the process of finalising the draft chapters.
Task Force on Employment Opportunities
2. Despite a targeted decline in the population growth rate, the growth of labour force peaks in during the Ninth Five Year Plan period. In order to tackle this problem, the Government has decided that ten crore people should get employment opportunities over the next ten years. Accordingly, employment opportunities have to be created at the rate of one crore jobs per annum to meet this objective. In this context, the Planning Commission has set up a Task force on Employment under the chairmanship of Shri M.S. Ahluwalia, Member of the Commission.
3. The Task Force on Employment Opportunities has divided its task in a number of sub-groups. The LEM Division in the Planning Commission, in addition to providing secretarial support to the Task Force, worked on Special Employment Programme, Labour Legislation, Labour Force Projection etc., for use as input in the deliberations of the Task Force.
Study Group for Development of Small Enterprises
4. A Study Group on Development of Small Enterprises has been set up under the chairmanship of Dr. S.P. Gupta, Member, Planning Commission, to review the problems faced by small enterprises and to suggest new programmes and modifications in the existing policies for the development and growth of small enterprises in the country in the light of international experience and recent economic policy reforms under implementation by the government.
5. The Study Group held its third meeting in Chennai on 30/9/1999 and visited a number of SSI units in industrial estates of Chennai. The Study Group has heard the views on a number of Tamil Nadu Small Scale and Tiny Industry Associations to get the first hand knowledge about their problems. The tenure of the Study Group has been extended upto 20.02.2000. Four sub-groups have been set up by the Study Group. These sub-groups have also held two/three meetings each and are in the process of finalising their reports which would be submitted to the Study Group for consideration.
6. The Secretary, Planning Commission, chaired a meeting of the handloom experts on 9/11/99 in New Delhi, to discuss the recommendations of the Satyam Committee on Textile Policy with respect to handlooms sector. Issues that emerged during the discussions would be considered while finalising the new Textile Policy.
State Fiscal-Reform Measures
7. The National Development Council which met on the 19th February, 1999 expressed concern over the fiscal situation of States and decided that immediate action should be taken to tackle the short and medium-term fiscal problems of the State Governments. Some immediate relief has been given within the financial year 1998-99. As a further follow up of the NDC decision, the Union Finance Minister convened a Meeting with some of the State Chief Ministers on 20th March, 1999. Based on the decisions of the Meeting, measures are being evolved to address the immediate financial needs and medium term fiscal sustainability of the States.
8. The Planning Commission is actively involved in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of fiscal reform measures taken up by States to improve their finances. In particular, discussions were held with the State Government of Madhya Pradesh for formulating medium term fiscal reform strategy for the State. On the basis of these discussions, the State Government submitted a Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Planning Commission listing out various reform measures along with milestones with a view to reduce primary deficit below one per cent of the State Domestic Product. A note for the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on creation of a Medium-term facility to promote fiscal reforms and improve governance in States is under consideration.
9. An Official Committee chaired by the Secretary, Planning Commission has been constituted to work out state-wise reform programme and the package of immediate assistance to be extended to the States. The Official Committee was set up in July, 1999. The Meetings of this Committee are held periodically to review the State finances.
Focussed attention on weaker sections
10. To monitor the implementation of the strategies of the Special Component Plan (SCP) for SCs and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) for STs, a Standing Tripartite Committee has been constituted under the Chairmanship of the Member, Planning Commission, in-charge of Backward Classes Welfare, in 1999 to review and resolve various policy oriented issues thereto in respect of Central Ministries. Similarly, Standing Tripartite Committees in the States are also being set up under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary.
11. A Discussion Paper for Empowering the Tribals of India has been prepared focusing/envisaging comprehensive development amongst the STs. Efforts are being made to organize a `National Conference on Empowerment of Tribals in India shortly by inviting Special Articles from the experts who have been working on different tribal problems and issues. Necessary initiatives have been taken to publish these articles in a Special Issue of Yojana.
12. A National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development (headed by Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission) to formulate the National Informatics Policy aimed at enabling the country to emerge as an Information Technology Superpower within the next ten years, has since submitted some of its Reports to make the adoption of information technology into a national movement. This recommendation addresses the felt need for easy availability and extensive transparency of government information.
13. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is the nodal information technology development and service organisation under the Planning Commission till early November,1999. During the current year, Video Conferencing facilities have been established at all Seven State capitals of the North Eastern Region and at the North-Eastern Council (NEC) Headquarters, Guwahati. The Video Conferencing services are also being extended over Local Area Network (NICNET-LAN) established in various Central Government Bhavans.
14. A Committee has been constituted by the Commission on 07.12.99 under the chairmanship of Shri M.S. Ahluwalia, Member, Planning Commission to consider and recommend on the two year Action Plan and the resource needs, as prepared by Department of Telecom. The Committee of Secretaries (COS) in its meeting on 29th October, 1999 decided that the Department of Telecommunications would prepare a two year Action Plan, indicating its resource position and put up before the Cabinet for consideration.
15. A facility to increase access to information-Soochna Dwar-with three computers with Internet connections, designed to cater to the needs of visiting journalists, academics and experts has been set up near the Reception Desk in the Ground Floor of Yojana Bhawan, New Delhi. The users can surf the Internet for information relating to planning and development. Facilities for downloading such information are also available for the visitors. This facility is expected to become an interactive centre for exchange of ideas on various aspects of planning and development.
Towards a Knowledge Society
16. In order to implement the Prime Ministers five point agenda for making India a knowledge super power a Task Force has been constituted with Shri K.C. Pant, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission as its Chairman. This Task Force will assess the current status of knowledge society and will suggest strategies and plan of action for new education system in the 21st Century leading India as a knowledge super power and developing education for developing a learning society among other things. The Task Force will have Dr.K. Venkatasubramanian, Member as its Member-Convenor, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof. R,A, Mashelkar, DG, CSIR, Dr. Mrs. Manju Sharma, Secretary, Department of Bio-Technology, Shri N.R. Narayanamurthy, CEO, Infosys, Dr. Hari Gautam, Chairman, UGC, Shri K.K. Baksi, Principal Adviser, Planning Commission, Prof. J.S. Rajput, Director, NCERT, Dr. N. Vijayaditya, Acting DG, NIC as its Members and Dr. V.P. Garg, Joint Adviser, Planning Commission as Member-Secretary.
Research Advisory Committee
17. The Research Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission has been reconstituted in December, 1999. The Terms of Reference of the Committee is to assess and advise on the future directions of social, economic and industrial development of the country. In this context, the Committee will deliberate upon the current and future technological needs and options and will provide the agenda for research and development and technology acquisition by Government and industry. The committee held its first meeting in December, 1999.
18. An Expert Committee on Current Status of Expenditure on Education in relation to a target of 6% of GDP was constituted by the Planning Commission which was chaired by Pr. Adviser (Edn.) and Joint Adviser (Edn.) as Member Secretary. The objectives of the Committee were to assess the current status, both in the public and private sector and to make recommendations regarding implementation strategies for gradual increase of governmental and non-governmental spending on education upto a limit of 6% of GDP. The final Report of the committee has been submitted. The Committee has since been dissolved.
19. The Planning Commission has also constituted a Standing Committee on Educational Statistics, with reference to emerging needs, to identify gaps in educational statistics and make suitable arrangements for assigning functional responsibilities to suitable agencies for standardization of formats, collection and interpretation of data, qualitative improvement and further dissemination. The Committee was also to suggest a convergence of efforts and authentication of statistical data to be released by the govt. agencies in a manner that would be acceptable to national and international agencies and other users. The Standing Committee held three sittings.
Natural Resource Management
20. Special Groups have been set up, keeping in view the key objectives of the 9th Plan to look into certain issues of great relevance generally having inter-departmental ramifications where the whole issue in its totality is not being dealt by any particular Ministry as the Planning Commission needs to function as an expert body advising the Government after considering all the facets of such broad issues.
National Population Policy
21. Population and sustainable development are key issues that determine the future improvement in quality of life. Over the last five decades, there have been massive changes in demographic and health indices of the population. The next two decades will witness an unprecedented increase in the number of persons in 15-59 age group. There is a need to meet health and contraceptive needs of this population. The number of births may remain unaltered but there is an urgent need to reduce maternal and infant mortality so that there is a reduction in the desired level of fertility. There has been a paradigm shift in Family Welfare Programme; centrally defined method specific targets have been replaced by community based need assessment, decentralized planning implementation of the programme to fulfill these needs. Taking all this into consideration, the Department of Family Welfare has formulated a draft National Population Policy. A Group of Ministers (GOM) was constituted by the Cabinet under the chairmanship of Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission to have a critical look at the draft National Population Policy and make suitable recommendations. The GOM after a number of meetings and consultation with experts suggested several modifications. The Government has since approved the National Population Policy.
Review of Centrally Sponsored Schemes
22. An issue that has been consistently brought up by State Governments in many fora pertains to the proposal for transfer of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) to the States. In this regard, Planning Commission undertook an exercise to compile all the existing CSS as on 1.4.1996 and a proposal was sent to the States seeking their comments on the transfer of these schemes to the States. The Planning Commission has decided to take this list of CSS and the consolidated comments of the States on this proposal to the NDC.
23. In pursuance of the decision taken in the National Development Council (NDC) meeting held in February,1999, a NDC Committee has been set up under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission with members from both the Central Ministries and the States on the Transfer of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS). The RD Division is functioning as the nodal Division for that Committee. The meeting noted that there is a wide divergence of opinion among the States and between the Central Ministries and the States on the transfer of Centrally Sponsored Schemes and the modalities of transfer of the schemes. After discussions, the NDC decided to constitute a Committee of the NDC under the chairmanship of the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. The members of this Committee include Union Ministers of Finance, Human Resource Development, Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs, the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Member, Planning Commission. The Committee is expected to submit its report by 31.3.2000.
24. Meanwhile a detailed exercise has been undertaken in the Internal Planning Commission to seek convergence of related schemes and weed out those which are no longer relevant. An attempt has been made in the Planning Commission to isolate those schemes which can be weeded out. Some schemes have been identified for transfer to the States, while a number of other schemes are sought to be converged. At present, Members are engaged in consultations with the concerned Central Ministries, going through every scheme in great detail.
Agriculture and Allied Sector
25. On the suggestion of Planning Commission to bring in convergence in ongoing Central Sector and centrally sponsored schemes and also weeding out of the schemes which have lost their relevance, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC) has decided to shift from scheme/programme approach to Macro Management Mode of assistance to states in the form of work plans through a three-dimensional state/crop/intervention matrix, formulated in an interactive mode and implemented in a spirit of partnership with the states. The state work plans will specifically focus on the major concern of each state/UT and will comprise of specific intervention to address the same and achieve maximum gains through most efficient utilization of Plan funds. The DAC would evaluate the accomplishment of milestones by the states as per work plans and other guidelines issued from time to time. Initially, 34 schemes will be converged with the Macro Management Mode and later on other schemes will also be brought under this in a phased manner. The proposed change in respect of 34 identified, schemes is to become operational with effect from 01-04-2000.
26. The National Agenda for Governance has given top priority for doubling food production and making India hunger-free in ten years. Food production will include not only foodgrains, i.e. rice, wheat, course cereals and pulses but also all major food items including oils, sugar, fruits and vegetables, livestock products like milk, egg and meat and fish. Ninth Plan envisages a detailed strategy and specific programmes to substantially increase the supply of various food items in such a way that demand for these items for the entire population is comfortably met and some exportable surplus also become available.
27. To ensure food security a three-pronged strategy is envisaged to be adopted to increase the purchasing power of the poor to have access to basic food requirement which include, (i) Increase in overall employment and incomes by raising farm productivity and supporting growth of other economic activities in the rural areas; (ii) Provision of gainful employment through employment generation schemes such as SGSY, EAS, which will also help in creation of durable rural infrastructure and support to small business and industrial activities in the urban areas; (iii) Distribution of foodgrains through public distribution system at concessional prices of those living below the poverty line.
28. In Animal Husbandry and Dairying sector, focus is on the genetic upgradation of milch animals, development of dairy processing and marketing infrastructure through cooperatives and protection of livestock from diseases with emphasis on creation of disease free zones. A scheme for Assisting the Sick Milk Unions /Federations set up in different parts of the country under the Operation Flood Programme was approved with the aim to revive sick unions by wiping out their accumulated losses.
29. Planning Commission organized a seminar on 9th September, 1999 to deliberate upon the issues concerning research and development thrusts in agriculture in the wake of globalisation. This was chaired by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. Besides distinguished Member of Parliament, a number of experts, academicians and government representatives participated in the deliberations. Major issues concerning tariff levels, market access and subsidy levels in the context of WTO regime were discussed. Discussions also covered other issues such as bio-diversity, need for documentation of flora and fauna, natural resource management and state of extension support, land-use pattern and poverty amelioration measures. The seminar highlighted the need for additional investment in research and development and promotion of biotechnology and tissue culture, hybrid seeds and application of microbiology. ICAR was advised to bring out a clear strategy on sustainable agriculture with high productivity.
30. A meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, on 22-10-1999 to discuss the issues relating to the agriculture sector. Representatives from Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAH and D) and Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) participated in the meeting. A presentation on the important issues in agriculture sector was made by the Agriculture Division of Planning Commission. Some of the important action points identified include, intensification of development of rainfed areas, exploitation of ground water potential in Eastern region, strengthening of soil testing facilities, augmenting seed replacement rate, minimizing the use of pesticides through popularisation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, strengthening of post harvest handling, processing and marketing facilities, enactment of legislation on multi-state cooperatives, rationalization of import subsidies, development of fodder, review of policy of deep sea fishing, etc.
31. Progress of the working of Agro-Planning Information Bank (APIB) established under the Agro-climatic Regional Planning Project (ACRP) was reviewed in a meeting held under the Chairmanship of Member (SRH) on 1.11.1999. It was decided that database for ACRP planning for three Districts of Karnataka generated by APIB must be made operational by the State Government and its extension agencies.
32. Member (SP) reviewed on 22-02-2000 the progress of project relating to Agro Climatic Regional Planning (ACRP). Senior officers of the concerned Central Ministries, Vice Chancellors/experts from State Agricultural Universities representing on Zonal Planning Teams, representatives from State Department of Agriculture/nodal officers associated with Institutionalising of ACRP concept and implementation of ACRP experiments participated.
33. A conference of the representatives of Evaluation Organisations of Centre and States was held on 28th July, 1999 under the chairmanship of Secretary, Planning Commission. The conference was inaugurated by Honble Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and was attended by the representatives of Planning Departments and Evaluation Wings of 15 Major States and representatives from academic Instititions. In the conference major emphasis was given to strengthening the Evaluation Organisations both at Centre and States/UTs.
34. The Monitoring Cell in the Planning Cell is being strengthened so that impact studies of Central Projects by reputed organisations of NGOs, apart from the Commission and Programme Evaluation Organisation are carried out. This would enable us to identify the good schemes, which could be encouraged, and to weed out certain other schemes (and locate the gaps), which would make the on-going schemes more effective.
Task Force on Infrastructure
35. The Government has set up a Task Force on Infrastructure, under the aegis of the Planning Commission with the aim of attracting investments to specific projects of national and regional importance and ensuring their timely completion. The Task Force has finalised the blueprint for the National Highway Development Project with an East-West corridor linking Silchar to Saurashtra and a North-South corridor linking Kashmir to Kanayakumari. It incorporates and further extends the earlier Golden Quadrangle Project linking the four Metros. A draft of the National Integrated Transport Policy that seeks to maximise the synergy between Railways, Roads, Ports, Airports and Inland Waterways has been prepared. Sufficient resources will be mobilised for implementing the project from the multiple sources and Private Sector participation is being enabled through BOT basis.
36. During the period, the Division was closely associated with the work relating to Task Force on Infrastructure. The Task Force finalised the alignment of National Highway Development Project which consists of Golden Quadrangle linking up Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and North-South and East-West corridors. The schedule of implementation of the project was also finalised along with financing of the project. Considering the need for completion of development of Golden Quadrangle, the schedule was revised and this part of NHDP is likely to be completed in 4 years as against 5 years as envisaged originally.
37. In respect of development of International Airport, it was decided to involve the private sector for their development through long term lease route.
38. The Division also drafted Integrated Transport Policy, keeping in view the transport demand generated by higher rate of growth of GDP to ensure transport development of all regions. The focus would be on developing a transport system as an integrated structure and objective is to create better system in which all transport sectors play their role in accordance with the comparative advantage enjoyed by them. The draft Integrated Transport Policy would be considered by the Task Force on Infrastructure.
39. An exercise was undertaken to assess the position relating to connectivity of villages in the country. Presentation was made on rural roads. Inter-ministerial discussions were held for utilisation of accruals on account of additional duty on HSD for supporting the initiatives in rural development and social sectors. After deliberations, it was decided that 50% of accruals on account of additional duty on HSD would be utilised for development/ maintenance and up-gradation of rural roads.
Greater Interaction with State Governments
40. There has been more frequent interaction between the State Governments and the Planning Commission. The Advisers in-charge of State Plans have been asked to frequently tour the States. The Working Group discussions to finalise the States Annual Plan of different sectors have been renewed after a gap of about 3 years. In addition, special discussions are being held with the State Governments on area specific problems.
Competitiveness in Indian Industry
41. The Commission felt that the overall impact of globalisation and WTOs stipulation on our industry and how we should prepare ourselves for increasing competitiveness should receive greater attention. A meeting on International Competitiveness of the Indian Industry was held under the Chairmanship of Dr. S.P. Gupta, Member, Planning Commission wherein several issues were discussed in detail which included the present status of international competitiveness of Indian industry, long term issues about international competitiveness from the point of view of WTO, labour standards, environment etc. and road map for improving Indias international competitiveness at the sectoral/industrial/firm level. As a follow up of this meeting, presentations were made by the Director General, National Productivity Council and Director General, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in this regard.
42. The Planning Commission has offered to assist the State Governments in preparing a Vision 2020 Document in order to have a Perspective Plan for the development of the States for the next 20 years or so. This would enable the States to have a preview of where they would like to reach by 2020 A.D. Similarly, a Group under Dr. S.P.Gupta, Member, Planning Commission is preparing a broad perspective framework for a Vision Document at the Central level.
State Level Human Development Report (HDR)
43. The Planning Commission has decided to support the preparation of the State Level HDRs which would be an important tool for identifying areas that are deficient in social infrastructure, with a view to increase the flow of allocations to these areas and improve the delivery systems. A National Workshop on this subject was organised.
Golden Jubilee of Planning Commission
44. A Steering Committee was set up in the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of Prof. S.R. Hashim, Member, Planning Commission in connection with celebrating 50 years of setting up of Planning Commission. The Committee in its meetings considered draft programmes to observe 50th year of the Planning Commission.
Other Areas Currently Engaging the Attention of the Planning Commission
45. The effect of globalisation and WTO stipulations on the Agriculture Sector, which needs special attention, and the institutional arrangements for the same have to be re-examined, so that agricultural production increases speedily.
46. Owing to excessive controls over labour intensive units in the cottage industries, there is a transition from self-employment to wage employment. A Paper has been prepared and Action Points are being identified.
47. The Planning Commission recognizes that there should be emphasis on good governance so that a more identifiable linkage between the plan expenditure and the actual delivery of benefits is established. There is a need for greater transparency and accountability in the implementation machinery. A Paper is being prepared for internal circulation within the Planning Commission, before the States are sensitized.
48. The issue of differential growth rates of States was brought in sharp focus. The Financial Resources Division has brought out a paper showing the state wise performance. A presentation was also made in the Planning Commission.
49. A committee to look in the State PSUs was constitiuted. An interim report has already been prepared.
World Trade Organisation (WTO)
50. The International Economics Division of Planning Commission undertook a comprehensive examination of major World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements with a view to advise the Government well before it engaged in any decision making or revision of its negotiating position. A Report was prepared summarising the results of the analysis based on factual information available from domestic and international sources and discussions with Ministries and Departments, research institutions and trade and industry bodies.
51. The Report brought out in brief the following: (i) Issues before the Seattle Round; (ii) Indias negotiating position on various issues; (iii) official views on strategy of negotiations; (iv) the proposals submitted by India in General Council of WTO on major issues; (v) views expressed in Inter-Ministerial meetings and meetings with trade and industry bodies; and (vi) suggestions for considerations of the Government concerning developmental issues in WTO negotiations.
Labour in Public Enterprises
52. Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, is the Convener of a group of Ministers to work out a strategy for liquidation of outstanding statutory dues of workers employed in Central PSUs. Various options are under study to mitigate the hardships of employees of PSUs. Roughly, 79,000 workers have been identified as surplus and fund required for a separation scheme for these workers is estimated around Rs.2800 crore; outstanding dues are additional to this. The Ministry of Finance has been providing budgetary resources in the form of non-plan loans for payment of wages and salaries to workers in those CPSUs which are not operational and have to be wound up.
53. An overall view on issues relating to labour in public enterprises has become necessary. The issues include besides the outstanding dues, periodicity and criterion for wage revision, future of sick units and terms for job separation. A Group of Ministers with wider terms of reference has, therefore, been asked to recommend measures to settle these issues, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, is Convenor of the Group.