M A I N   N E W S

Foreign experts to go
Plan consultative groups dissolved
R. Suryamurthy and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 30
The Planning Commission today dissolved all the 19 consultative committees in a bid to end the controversy over the presence of foreign experts from multilateral agencies and global business consultants, which the Left parties claimed as a vindication of their stand.

Significantly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited the leaders of the four Left parties (CPI, CPM, AIFB, RSP) for a breakfast meeting tomorrow, ostensibly to discuss several contentious issues, including that of proposed hike in FDI limits in some sectors.

Political observers here averted that, at least for the time being, the Left parties appear to have gained an upper hand in political sweepstakes.

Tomorrow’s meeting assumes significance, particularly, in the context of emerging scenario where several contentious issues between the Left and Congress led UPA Government could be discussed.

The issue of employment guarantee, as envisaged in the NCMP, is also expected to come up for discussion as the proposed legislation for the purpose would have to be comprehensive clearly demarcating the responsibility of states and the Centre.

Other issues that could figure in tomorrow’s breakfast meeting between the Prime Minister and Left leaders are EPF interest rates, rising inflation and press note 18 (It forces foreign partners to seek permission from Indian partner before any fresh investment is made in joint venture).

The decision to dissolve the consultative groups comes within three days of the return of the Prime Minister from foreign trip.

The Planning Commission, as part of the process of conducting the mid-term appraisal of the 10th Plan had announced the establishment of a number of consultative groups in different areas to provide a forum for outside input into the appraisal process.

The plan panel said “the decision to include these groups, individuals associated with international multilateral organisations and foreign firms operating in India has been a subject of some discussion”.

“The commission has reviewed the matter and has decided to dissolve the consultative groups. The Commission will revert to the earlier practice of consulting individuals separately as part of the mid-term appraisal process,” it said.

Welcoming the move, CPI national secretary D. Raja told The Tribune that the Left leaders wanted to know what would be the future course of action by the Planning Commission and the logic behind the dissolution of all the consultative committees altogether.

“We had objected only to the presence of foreign experts in these groups,” he said.

Left economist Jayati Ghosh, who was among the five economists who had threatened to quit the group if the experts from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other consulting groups were not removed from the panels, said “the government has rectified its mistake”.

Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Abani Roy said “Good sense has finally prevailed upon the Planning Commission and whatever we had said has been heard”. 

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