ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to change the composition of the Planning Commission and induct as members one nominee of each province to formulate national plans in line with provincial development and planning priorities.
Sources told Dawn the decision was taken by the National Economic Council at its recent meeting in the aftermath of devolution of 18 ministries to the provinces under the 18th Amendment.
“With provincial members on board, the process of formulation of annual and five-year plans would be undertaken with greater provincial involvement and influence from the beginning of the process,” a senior government official said.
The devolution was to be completed in three phases. The first phase was completed in December last year with transfer of five ministries, followed by five ministries by April and another eight will be devolved by June 30.
Following the implementation of the 18th Amendment, the planning function would also be devolved to the provinces and provincial governments would become ultimate arbiters of their priorities, rather than merely implementing national, vertical and top-down driven policies and targets.
The official said the role of the Planning Commission would now change in two ways. First, with a large part of development spending devolved to the provinces, its role will diminish in overall terms in administering the Public Sector Development Programme. The function would be taken over by provincial planning and development departments.
Second, the Planning Commission would play the role of a coordinator of national policies and objectives. It will now need to formulate its plan with greater provincial input and say than has been the case so far.
He said the Planning Commission was likely to be separated from the ministry of finance and given an autonomous status, headed directly by the prime minister. Although at present the prime minister is its chairman, the commission remains an attached division of the finance ministry.
This has become a pressing requirement because many responsibilities now fall in the combined domain of the federal and provincial governments. Some of these responsibilities include population and census, public debt, railways, major ports, electricity and higher education (universities).