CM eyes record plan size leap

Patna, Jan. 23: The Bihar government will seek the Planning Commission's approval for a plan size of Rs 34,000 crore for the 2013-14 fiscal, an increase of Rs 6,000 crore from the size of the last financial year.

"The finance department had proposed a plan size of Rs 32,000 crore. But the size was pegged at Rs 34,000 crore at a high-level meeting," chief minister Nitish Kumar said today. He exuded confidence that the Planning Commission would approve the proposed plan size, which is the highest-ever increase in terms of absolute terms.

According to sources, the modalities of financially supporting the plan size have been worked out. "The central assistance will be around Rs 5,000 crore. The rest will be supported by the state's own resources, borrowings and grants of the Finance Commission," a source said.

"Ever since Jharkhand was carved out of undivided Bihar, our state has been receiving a special grant of Rs 1,000 crore every year. It was because of our request that the grant was continued in the 11th Five-Year Plan. The grant was given to central construction agencies for projects in Bihar. The central agencies, however, did not meet their responsibilities," Nitish said.

The chief minister added that the Centre had failed to decide how much the increase of the special grant should be. "We have demanded an increase of the special grant to Bihar to Rs 4,000 crore a year for the next five years."

"The state had requested the home ministry to make available Rs 2,000 crore owed by Jharkhand to Bihar. If the Centre increases the special grant to Bihar, the plan size will increase," Nitish said. He added that the state was yet to receive any money from what the ministry had allocated.

When the Nitish government assumed power in 2005, the plan size Rs 4,490 crore. "The quantum of the plan size was small and a large portion of it was of book transfer-parking of funds nature," said economist Shaibal Gupta.

He added: "The quantum of plan size indicates the quantum spent in infrastructure building. Bihar has a huge infrastructure deficit. The quantum jump in the plan size is highly commendable." The economist said it has been found in recent times that the government had spent its plan size. "Increasing the capacity to spend on infrastructure goes a long way in bridging development deficits," he added.

Nitish recently said his government had spent 60 per cent of the Rs 28,000 crore by the end of December 2012. Experts pointed out that the maximum expenditure was made during the last three months of the financial year for construction of roads, bridges and buildings. "We should meet the target of spending Rs 28,000 crore this year," a fina-nce department official said.

During the current financial year, large sums of plan size have been allotted to agriculture, energy, transport and communication, irrigation and social services.

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