Decision on foreign experts in Manmohan's court
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Decision on foreign experts in Manmohan's court

Tuesday, 28 September 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The government hopes to reach common ground with its Left allies on a row over the involvement of foreign experts in India's plan process, with the Planning Commission Tuesday leaving the issue for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to tackle.

After a meeting of the Planning Commission Tuesday, its deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said he would report to the prime minister and he hoped the dispute would be resolved in a couple of days.

Ahluwalia dismissed as speculation reports that foreign representatives had pulled out of the consultative groups attached to the plan panel following strong protests by the Left parties.

"It is speculation - we are also reading the newspaper reports... we discussed the issue and I will report back to the prime minister," he told reporters.

"We hope to resolve the matter in one or two days."

This was Ahluwalia's first meeting with the plan panel since his return from a trip to London and New York with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the chairman of the Planning Commission.

Some 15 foreign representatives had been invited to participate in a total of 19 consultative groups appointed by the Planning Commission to conduct a mid-term appraisal of the 10th Five Year Plan ending 2007.

The groups are to complete the process by the end of next month and submit their first draft to the Planning Commission by Nov 15, which would be referred to the National Development Council.

The foreign experts stayed away from panel meetings after the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Forward Bloc said their inclusion was inimical to India's sovereignty.

In an indication that the matter was now beyond the Planning Commission and in the realm of political decision-making, the panel Tuesday reportedly discussed it cursorily for about three-four minutes in a one-hour meeting that took stock of various aspects.

Ahluwalia said all Planning Commission members were unanimous, but insisted this was only one of the topics discussed.

Ahluwalia had only last week hinted at a formula to keep the foreign experts in the process without offending the Left.

However, he reportedly discussed no formula in the Plan panel meet.

Said a member of the panel: "You will see, a decision will be announced in a day or two and the dispute will be sorted out."

According to officials, the all-important decision may have to await a coordination meeting of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left parties.





Source: IANS
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