ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: So The Plan Is Cut.

Editorial from Volume IX, No 38, September 21, 1957.

When early this year the mounting deficit in the balance of payments and the continuing rise in domestic prices started arousing concern, a high official of the Planning Commission committed the indiscretion of thinking aloud in speech broadcast by A I R. Not that he was unduly alarmed, but he did suggest that the difficulties confronting the Plan might compel the Plan to be ‘slowed down’ or ‘staggered’. But this was just before the General Elections and it was perhaps considered politically unwise to confess that the magnitude of planned expenditure needed cutting down. That might have exposed the party in power to the charge of lax and defective planning or at worst to the accusation that the party leadership was bowing to the demand of the protagonists of free enterprise who had been clamouring for a cut in the size of the Second Five Year Plan since its very inception. The officer concerned was, as those with an unduly long memory of public events will remember, very sharply pulled up and the Government completely dissociated itself from the views he had expressed. It is clear now that what the officer concerned had said at the time had reflected the working of the minds of important members of the Planning Commission, though it is true that the stage for making a decision or at any rate for making that decision public had not yet arrived.

Though the economic difficulties facing the country have kept piling up, it has taken the Government about six months to declare publicly that the Plan as originally conceived would be difficult to complete within the stipulated period of five years. The Minister for Planning, Shri Gulzarilal Nanda, told the Lok Sabha last week that it would not be possible for Government to achieve the order of developmental outlay originally contemplated in the Plan, and that what the Planning Commission only hoped now was to achieve the financial target – in terms of present prices. Developmental outlay over the period of five years would in that case be smaller by 12 per cent, in real terms, as compared to the original Plan estimates. This would in turn mean a smaller rise in national income and therefore in the standard of living, though this would no doubt depend upon the income-generating impact of the particular expenditure items that are cut out.

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