Montek makes U-turn, abandons Rs 32 per day poverty line

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by SHASH2K2, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

    May 10, 2010
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    Bihar, BanGalore , India
    NEW DELHI: Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia did a U-turn on the highly controversial Rs 32 per day poverty line, informing Prime Minister and plan panel chairman Manmohan Singh that caps on number of beneficiaries of schemes with central subsidies will be done away with.

    The about-turn comes after Ahluwalia's earlier letter to attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati in October defending the "artificial" cap Planning Commission imposes on beneficiaries of various schemes using the poverty line.

    Well-places sources, however, said the government was yet to decide if and how to put a cap on the beneficiaries, specifically for the proposed National Food Security Act.

    The controversy on the poverty line cap had raged after the Planning Commission put in an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that it took Rs 32 per day per capita expenditure in cities and Rs 25 in rural India as the cut-off for those it defines as poor. The court had asked the plan panel to review its policy to use such a low poverty line to cut off people from the beneficiary list for various programmes.

    As the affidavit set off a controversy, some plan panel members too came out against the policy and advised a re-look. This led the Planning Commission and the rural development ministry to jointly issue a statement on October 3 clarifying that caps were not to be imposed and that the results of the fresh below the poverty line survey (BPL) would be used to identify beneficiaries.

    But then in a letter on October 5, Ahluwalia justified the affidavit in the letter to the attorney general and suggested ways of defending and explaining in the court. He said the Planning Commission had not "applied its mind" to the new poverty figures provided in the Tendulkar report, their legitimacy or consequences but merely accepted it on the face value.

    But in his fresh missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it has now been clarified that while the poverty figures would still be calculated to carry out comparative studies between regions, over time, it would not be used to impose an artificial cap on the number of beneficiaries of various social sector and development schemes.

    The Food Security Act though remains mired in the numbers game. The government had inserted the Tendulkar figures in the bill itself as a cap for beneficiaries but a debate within the UPA government is still continuing on whether it should keep the cap or depend upon the new BPL survey to identify families. Sources said while the rest of the provisions had been sorted out for a final bill to be taken to Union Cabinet, this important element alone was keeping the government from clearing the bill.

    Montek makes U-turn, abandons Rs 32 per day poverty line - The Times of India

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