Plan panel to assess drought impact on economy

Bangalore, Aug 31 ( The first meeting of the reconstituted Planning Commission in New Delhi Tuesday will assess the impact of drought and global recession on the Indian economy this fiscal, a top official said here.

“We will make a tentative assessment of the current state of economy in light of the drought and global recession and review key policy issues,” said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia here.

The plan panel was reconstituted July 27 after the formation of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The real assessment of the economy and its growth will be done by December when the commission will take up the midterm appraisal of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12).

“Though preliminary work on midterm appraisal has begun, our objective is to present a complete picture by December so that the Union budget for 2010-11 can be prepared taking into account our recommendations,” Ahluwalia told Inditop in an interview.

The commission will also review the status of the integrated energy policy drawn for rapid growth of the sector with diverse resources.

“The policy was prepared by the commission and approved in December 2008 by the cabinet of the previous UPA government. It is based on the fundamental assumption that we must follow common principle for different energy sources,” Ahluwalia said.

Till now, there were different norms for coal, oil, gas and electricity at the centre and state levels, with rules and regulations overlapping and working at cross-purpose.

“We can’t have one principle for coal, another for oil, a third one for gas and a fourth for electricity. As energy is a key area, we must have a uniform policy to achieve rapid growth in this critical sector,” he said.

As various ministries at the central and state government are involved with the energy sector, the panel will draw the attention of stakeholders on policy actions.

“Though a good start has been made on many areas, we do not think there has been adequate movement in some important areas, delaying decision-making process.”