After chairman Veerappa Moily concurred with the dominant view, Amitabh Kant and his team had to return without discussing demands for grants.
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.