The Planning Commission might be replaced with a diluted version of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China, with a much smaller role to begin with.
The logic is if the new body is modelled exactly on the lines of NDRC, it needs immense power and clout over almost all central ministries as exercised by the Chinese body. An announcement on the new body is expected to be made shortly, officials said.
NDRC has broad administrative and planning control over the entire Chinese economy and is sometimes also referred to as 'mini-state council' and the 'number-one ministry.'
It has 26 functional departments, with around 900 civil servants. India's Planning Commission has 31 divisions and seven attached offices, which include the Unique Identification Authority of India and Independent Evaluation Office (the latter had recommended about the need to change the Commission's role).
"In fact, if you see China's NDRC, it has powers to even authorise raids and inspections to control a price spike and can reconsider cases related to price violation, which I doubt the new body will have," a former Commission member said.
The move to abolish the Commission and replace it with a new body is being opposed by some opposition parties and states. The Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has said it would raise this at the next session of Parliament.
"I don't think that creating an over-arching body in place of the Planning Commission on the lines of China's NDRC will be opposed by the central ministries, provided it is backed by the Prime Minister's Office. But, the basic problem will be to get the states to agree to such a move," Yogendra Alagh, a former minister for planning and programme implementation, told Business Standard.
He said the problem would be in allocation of development funds to states under Article 282 of the Constitution. "In case of development funds for central ministries there won't be any problem but I'm not sure about the same in the case of state governments as politics will come into play," Alagh said.
He said the administrative structures in the state were customised to deal with the Planning Commission.
Officials in the Commission agreed with Alagh. They said it was in 2013 when Modi had presented a 'blueprint' of a new Planning Commission during one of his annual plan meetings as then Gujarat chief minister and had mentioned about the NDRC in China. "Mr Modi had made a presentation where he raised questions over the current role of the Commission," said an official who was present. It seems he had a vision about the Commission's role much before he became the prime minister, the official said.
As in India, China's NDRC subsumed the State Development Planning Commission, in 2003.The latter had emerged from the State Planning Commission, a structure similar to India's Planning Commission.
- The question now is: Will a diluted version of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China replace the Planning Commission? A quick look at some of NDRC's main functions
- Formulate and implement strategies of economic and social development
- Monitor macroeconomic and social development trend and provide forecast and guidance
- Participate in creating fiscal, monetary and land policies
- Direct, promote and coordinate restructuring of economic system
- Plan layout of key construction projects and productivity
- Organise formulation of comprehensive industrial policies
- Maintain aggregate balance and overall control of important commodities
- Organise formulation of key strategies, plans and policies in addressing climate change
- Draft relevant laws and regulations concerning national economic and social development
- National economic mobilisation