New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Sunday lauded the role of Planning Commission in development of hill states and flagged concerns over the proposed move to distribute the planning functions among the Ministry of Finance and respective Ministries saying it would result in loss of perspective and long term view.
At a meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Chief Ministers here to seek their views on the structure and functioning of the revamped Planning Commission, Singh, a Congress veteran said the plan panel over the years helped the hill states of India in accelerating the pace of development by providing financial and technical assistance, recognised problems faced by them and made appropriate recommendations based on different studies to compensate the hill states for cost disabilities being experienced by them.
"The functioning of Planning Commission in its present form should be strengthened by giving additional functions to it so as to meet the challenges of economy and aspirations of the states as it had played a pioneering role during last six decades besides assisting the states in formulation of plans in a consultative manner," he said.
He also felt that the present 15 per cent of allocation of total plan funds as block grants to the states was too less to meet their development needs and should be enhanced to at least 50 per cent.
"The Commission should also continue to mediate in resolving issues that the states have with the central ministries," he said.
Noting that the move to distribute the planning functions among the Ministry of Finance and respective Ministries would result in loss of perspective and long term view, the Chief Minister said, "The differences in approach between Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance were always useful in providing checks and balances, since the Commission always considered states' viewpoints in schemes and plans."
He also raised the issue of environmental services and lauded Planning Commission's initiatives on development of hilly states and livelihood issues.
He said the Committee formed recommended budgetary support for environmental services to these hilly states on account of environmental services to the nation and the other recommendations of the Committee should also be implemented.
He added that the Planning Commission also helped Himachal Pradesh in providing Central State funding in the ratio 90:10 on the pattern of northeastern states.
"All hilly states had been declared as special category states by the National Developmental Council in order to fulfill peculiar developmental needs and this had helped to carry out development in geographically tough areas.
"Hill economies have been able to sustain themselves due to continuous support in form of plan assistance by the Planning Commission.
"The achievements made in the field of socio-economic development in these hill states could be sustained only with the liberal financial assistance from Planning Commission," Singh said, according to a release by the state government.