Panel demands more
scrutiny of Niti funds
February 17, 2017
Veerappa Moily concurred with the dominant view, Amitabh Kant
and his team had to return without discussing demands for
In an unprecedented development, Parliament’s Standing Committee
on Finance has refused to discuss the demands for grants of Niti
Aayog and the Ministry of Planning by objecting to the fact both
have failed to table in Lok Sabha the mandatory detailed demands
for grants and annual reports on budgetary allocation.
Rebuffing Amitabh Kant, who appeared before the House panel as
Niti Aayog CEO and also representing the Ministry of Planning,
committee members said they would not process the departments’
demands for grants and submit a report to Parliament till the
detailed demands for grants and annual report were placed before
the House, as per a person aware of the development.
Incidentally, there have been whispers in some Opposition camps
that they are keen to scrutinise whether or not some outfits
enjoying patronage of Sangh Parivar are discreetly tapping
resources at Ayog’s and ministry’s disposal.
Cutting across party lines, most members felt if the panel
discussed the demands for grants of the two departments by
overlooking absence of their detailed demands for grants and
annual reports, it will go “against the convention/rules set by
the Speaker” and also set an “unhealthy precedent” for other
ministries and departments.
The panel wondered if other ministries and departments could
place their detailed demands for grants and annual reports in
the House, why the Aayog and planning ministry could not do the
same. “It may be due to ignorance or unproductive audacity,”
said a member after the meeting.
As soon as Kant and his team appeared before the panel, BJD
member Bhartruhari Mahtab is learnt to have objected to Ayog’s
attitude and opposed the panel processing its demands for
grants. Even as Kant tried to explain, BJP member Nishikant
Dubey raised the same objection.
Mahtab, Dubey and some members then said in the absence of a
detailed demands for grants and annual reports, the panel would
not be able to do a macro/micro processing of allotted
funds/spending and submit report of the two departments. They
reminded the officials in 2016, the Aayog and ministry failed to
present annual report.
Former PM Manmohan Singh said Kant may have come prepared to
discuss details, but it did not help dilute objection of other
members. They were not agreeable to the explanation that since
the budget presentation was advanced, the financial year was
still not over for presenting the detailed demands for grants
and annual report They also refused the offer for an “informal
discussion” on demands for grants saying the House panel could
only discuss “formally presented documents and data in House for
preparing its report to Parliament.
After chairman Veerappa Moily concurred with the dominant view,
Kant and his team had to return without discussing demands for
grants. Kant was not available for comment when ET phoned him.
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