A full Planning Commission chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday approved the 12th Five-Year Plan document that seeks to raise the average annual economic growth during 2012-17 period ending March 2017 to 8.2 percent from 7.9 percent achieved in 11th Plan.
The total plan size is of Rs.47.7 lakh crore, 135 percent more than the investments realised in the 11th Plan (2007-12). And the thrust areas identified are infrastructure, health and education.
The growth rate has been lowered to 8.2 percent from the 9.0 percent projected earlier in view of the current slowdown in growth.
"Planning Commission's full meeting endorsed the view that given the changed international economic circumstances the lowering of growth rate estimate from 9 to 8.2 percent is realistic," Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman Planning Commission, said, briefing the media.
The Commission also decided to incorporate suggestions made at the meeting. It would act on Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's suggestion that direct cash transfer of subsidies in food, fertilizers and petroleum by the end of the 12th Plan period.
Direct cash transfers would bring down the government's subsidy burden as the money would go directly to the "genuine" beneficiaries and "plug leakages" in the implementation of these schemes.
It was suggested at the meeting that beneficiary payments across a number of schemes, which have shown leakages in the delivery system, should be made through the Aadhar UID (Unique Identification) system.
The 12th Plan seeks to achieve 4 per cent agriculture sector growth during the Plan period. The growth target for manufacturing sector has been pegged at 10 per cent.
"The Prime Minister noted the reasonably good average growth rate of the 11th Plan period and both he and the agriculture minister emphasised that achieving 4 percent growth in agriculture is critical to achieve inclusive growth," Ahluwalia said.
Agriculture sector in the current plan period has grown at 3.3 percent, as compared to 2.4 percent growth in the sector during the 10th plan period.
The document stresses the importance of infrastructure development and removal of bottlenecks as vital for high growth and inclusiveness.
"Power sector was heavily mentioned and all members agreed that recent problems encountered in the power sector relate to fuel supply. This needs to be resolved on an urgent basis," Ahluwalia said.
He said on the issue of fuel it was suggested that there is urgent need to resolve problems between ministries that hold up projects.
The meeting also vetted targets for various economic and social sectors targets relating to poverty alleviation, infant mortality, enrolment ratio and job creation.
Ahluwalia said health and education sectors are major thrust areas and the outlays for these in the Plan have been raised. Outlay on health would include increased spending in related areas of drinking water and sanitation.
A major innovation in the 12th Plan is in the area of rationalisation and reform of centrally sponsored schemes.
The key recommendation is the introduction of "Flexi-Fund"
that allows flexibility to states to modify national guidelines for implementing centrally sponsored schemes.
The Union Cabinet will now vet the Plan and then it will placed before the National Development Council (NDC), the apex decision-making body, for final approval.