Bihar Annual Plan fixed at Rs 13,000 crore

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New Delhi, Jan 30 (UNI) The Annual Plan size for Bihar for the year 2008-09 was today fixed at Rs 13,000 crore, which includes additional Central assistance of Rs 100 crore for projects of special importance to the state.

The Plan size was fixed at a meeting between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

It was also agreed that on the basis of mid year performance and absorptive capacities, an additional outlay of Rs 500 crore in the special package of assistance to Bihar based on performance can be included in the Annual Plan for the year 2008-09.

With this the effective plan size would be of the order of Rs 13, 500 crore.

Dr Ahluwalia complimented the state government for the major initiatives taken towards administrative reforms, decentralisation and simplification of procedures, delegation of powers and also focused attention towards implementation of flagship programmes launched by the Centre.

He said this has led to acceleration in plan expenditure.

He also appreciated efforts being made for improvement in the performance in certain sectors, including education, health and horticulture.

Dr Ahluwalia said the Commission was concerned about the problem being faced by the states in executing Centrally sponsored schemes and was looking forward to suggestions aimed at improving implementation by making guidelines flexible, wherever necessary.

Attention was drawn to the industrial policy launched by the state government in 2006 and it was pointed out that the policy was skewed towards dependence on providing fiscal benefits in the form of subsidy and concessions for attracting investments.

This was contrary to the policies being pursued by the Central Government which emphasizes for creation of enabling conditions and removal of impediments.

The state government should identify select industries and sectors which have potential endowment in Bihar in place of conventional approach of giving emphasis to sectors as a whole.

Attention was also drawn to high dependence on public sector funding and it was pointed out that efforts should be made to encourage private sector funding in development programmes.

Mr Kumar said special plan has been formulated to bring about improvement in sectors like power, road connectivity, irrigation, forestry and watershed development. Social sector is being given top priority.

Next year, 31 per cent of the development funds would be earmarked for this sector, he said adding that irrigation and flood control will also get focused attention with over 13 per cent and 10.93 per cent allocations.

He said the state government is working to raise the standards of living to the national average and beyond through inclusive growth with rural bias and gender focus.

Reform aimed at promoting inclusiveness include setting up of Land Reforms Commission, State Mahadalit Commission, Commission for Extremely Backward Classes and State Minority Commission.

He said under the NREGS 65.4 lakh job cards have been issued, employment provided to 23.51 lakh and 25,651 works completed.

Over 2,26,000 houses have been completed under Indira Awas Yojana.

He said because of large gap in development, the state government will have to depend more on public funding. He also said the Centre should evolve district specific approach on programmes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.

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