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NITI AAYOG proposed Three Year Action Agenda

 NITI AAYOG proposed Three Year Action Agenda

Introduction

·         NITI Aayog has circulated the draft “Three Year Action Agenda” to its governing council (which comprises all chief ministers) for review.

·         The Three-Year Action Agenda covers the last years of the Fourteenth Finance Commission I.E. The period from 2017-18 to 2019-20,

·         This three-year action plan will be part of a seven-year strategy paper and a fifteen-year vision document (spanning 2017-18 to 2031-32), which are in progress. 

·         The agenda includes some 300 specific action points which is outlined in seven parts covering multiple facets of the Indian economy.

Benefits of three year agenda over five year plans

The tree year action agenda has replaced the five year plans – an economic approach adopted by PM Nehru – which became history when the 12th Plan, the last of the Five-Year Plans, came to an end on March 31.

The benefits are:

·         In a country as big and diverse as India, centralized planning could not work beyond a point due to its one-size-fits-all approach. Thus it was time to come out of the legacy of five-year plans which are reminiscent of centrally planned economies like the Soviet Union and Romania.

·         The cycle of five year plan and the term of government are not synchronous. With the three year cycle, government is held more accountable for its action on the plan.

·         By making this three-year action plan a part of a seven-year strategy paper and a 15-year vision document, government can focus on short-term goals which can be changed from time to time in a dynamic environment with eyes firmly stuck on the long-term policy objectives.

·         They will also be aligned with the finance commission recommendations as the finances would be provided through the finance commissions.

Selected Key Action Agenda Items

·         Three Year Revenue and Expenditure Framework:

o   Proposes reduction of the fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19, and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20.

o   Shifting additional revenues towards high priority sectors: health, education, agriculture, rural development, defence, railways, roads and other categories of capital expenditure.

·         Agriculture: Doubling Farmers’ Incomes by 2022.

·         Industry and Services: Job Creation.

·         Urban Development: Need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land.

·         Regional strategies:

o   North Eastern Region.

o   Coastal Areas & Islands.

o   North Himalayan states and

o   Desert and Drought prone states.

·         Transport and Digital Connectivity.

·         Energy: Adopt consumer friendly measures such as provision of electricity to all households by 2022, LPG connection to all BPL households, elimination of black carbon by 2022, and extension of the city gas distribution programme to 100 smart cities.

·         Science & Technology.

·         Governance: Re-calibrate the role of the government by shrinking its involvement in activities that do not serve a public purpose and expanding its role in areas that necessarily require public provision.

·         Taxation and Regulation.

·         The Rule of Law: Undertake significant judicial system reforms including increased ICT use, structured performance evaluation and reduced judicial workload.

·         Education and Skill Development.

·         Health: Focus on public health through significantly increasing government expenditure on it, establishing a focal point and creating a dedicated cadre.

·         Building an Inclusive Society: Enhance the welfare of women, children, youth, minorities, SC, ST, OBCs, differently abled persons and senior citizens

·         Environment and Water Resources: Adopt measures to tackle city air pollution and promote sustainable use of water resources.

Way ahead

It comprehensively covers the Indian economy and has set realistic targets which appear to be achievable keeping in mind the healthy state of the Indian economy.

But to ensure that it doesn’t meet the same fate of the five year plans (targets which remain on paper), NK Singh has recommended the following measures:

·         Firstly, In the case of five year plans, Parliament gave little time in analyzing the broader issues of the five-year plans. Thus we should constitute a separate parliamentary committee on planning, which could meaningfully engage with the NITI Aayog’s policy prescriptions.

·         Secondly, for fostering cooperative federalism in true spirit we should create state level bodies on the line of NITI Aayog to ensure that the state-level policies are in sync with the “Three Year Action Agenda”. 

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