Full Planning Commission chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday approved 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) document that proposes to lower annual average economic growth rate target during the period to 8.2 per cent from 9 per cent envisaged earlier in view of fragile recovery.

“The Full Planning Commission approved the draft 12th Five Year Plan document, subject to certain suggestions made in the meeting,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters.

While approving the document, he said, “the full Commission endorsed the revised growth target of 8.2 per cent for the 12th Plan, which is necessary to achieve the inclusive growth”. The draft document will now be vetted by Cabinet and thereafter placed before the National Development Council (NDC) for final approval.

The meeting of the full Plan panel was attended by its members and key ministers including Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. Railways Minister Mukul Roy, who represents Trinamool Congress, did not attend the meeting.

The 12th Plan seeks to raise the economic growth rate to 8.2 per cent from 7.9 per cent recorded in the previous Plan. This, however, is lower than the 9 per cent target envisaged last year. In view of the global problems, Ahluwalia said, 8.2 per cent “is actually a realistic target” for the 12th Plan.

He further said the 12th Plan strategy seeks to provide flexibility to states to utilise funds provided under various centrally sponsored scheme and allow them to make state specific guidelines under these programmes for incurring expenditure.

As regards rationalisation of subsidies, Ahluwalia said, the Commission would take follow-up action on the suggestion of Chidambaram on cash transfers food, fuel and fertiliser subsidies.

This exercise of cash transfer of subsidies, he hoped, would be completed by March 2017, the end of the 12th Plan period.

On concerns expressed by Chidambaram on reduction of subsidy burden to 1.2 per cent of the GDP by 2016-17 from 1.9 per cent in the budget estimates for 2012-13, Ahluwalia said, “I agree that these are all ambitious targets. Plan is all about ambition.”

Referring to sectoral allocations, he said, the Plan seeks to put emphasis on expenditure on social sector schemes, especially in health and education.

Ahluwalia further said that states would be given more flexibility in utilising funds under centrally sponsored schemes. The centre would encourage them to spend funds for the specific purpose under the scheme in more innovative manner, he added.

(This article was published on September 15, 2012)
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