Lucknow: As the state government steps up preparations for presenting its annual budget for 2022-2023 in the state legislature on May 26, 2022 focus shifts to what appears to be the forgotten budgetary announcement of setting up a State Niti Ayog for formulation and evaluation of policies in Uttar Pradesh.
Minister for finance Suresh Khanna had made an announcement in this regard in the state’s annual budget for 2020-2021, presented in the state assembly here on February 18, 2021. As no action has been taken to implement the announcement, there is a growing feeling in the corridors of power that the state government has forgotten the budgetary announcement.
Uttar Pradesh State Niti Ayog was expected to replace the state planning commission set up nearly 50 years ago. The state planning commission has already become irrelevant, following the union government’s move to scrap planning commission and set up a Niti Ayog at the centre after a resolution at the union cabinet’s meeting led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 1, 2015.
However, a senior officer of the state government did not rule out possibilities of concrete action to set up the State Niti Ayog in coming months. “We are looking at the work done and steps taken to set up such policy planning bodies in other states. We have seen the examples of Assam and Karnataka. We propose to restructure the state planning commission as a policy planning think tank soon,” said the officer.
Those aware of the developments said the process to set up the state’s policy planning think tank, in accordance with the announcement, may take some time. A presentation has been made at the top level and preliminary discussions have been held on the issue within the state planning department.
The budgetary announcements are generally implemented in the same financial year. As the announcement was made in 2020-2021, action to set up the State Niti Ayog should have been taken by March 31, 2021. A period of over two years has already passed and so the state government may have to expedite action at every stage in coming months.
It may be mentioned that the state planning commission was responsible for preparing the five-year and annual plans for UP till 2017, the last year of the state’s 12th five-year plan.
The previous government did not take any decision to scrap the state planning commission that became irrelevant after discontinuation of formulation of UP’s five-year and annual plans. The state planning commission also works as an apex body for guiding the District Planning Committees set up in every district under the provisions of Article 243 ZD of the Constitution of India. The state government will have to take a call to assign the planning commission’s role to the State Niti Ayog or some other organization when it gives final shape to structure and working of the new body.
“Uttar Pradesh government may have stopped formulating five- year and annual plans. But there is still need for planning. It also needs policy planning and coordination. An apex body should be there to work as a think tank. The state government should take necessary action to set up State Niti Ayog,” said Yashvir Tyagi, former head of the department, economics, Lucknow University.