After almost four months, the government has finally zeroed in on a shape and structure for the new body which will replace the five-decade old Planning Commission.
According to a senior official, the new body will be called Neeti Aayog (Policy Commission). It will be headed by a vice-chairman, not deputy chairman as was the case in the Commission. The name of first vice-chairman is expected to be announced soon.
Officials said the new body will comprise the office of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the inter-state councils and Programme Evaluation. Each of the four departments will be headed by a secretary-level officer.
A few of these departments are currently under the Planning Commission, while some function with the ministries.
For example, for DBT, the nodal body is the Planning Commission, while its function like DBT for LPG cylinders is managed by the ministry of oil and natural gas. In the case of inter-state councils some of them are handled by the ministry of home affairs
Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a presentation on the various options and suggestions given by experts, intellectuals and people from different walks of life on the shape of the new commission, officials said. The presentation is expected to be made on Monday.
Another meeting of state chief ministers and secretaries is expected to be held on 7 December on the finer details of the new body.
"The shape of the new body is almost complete and the Prime Minister's Office has been apprised of the same," the official said. He said an announcement regarding the new body is expected to made either during the ongoing Winter session of Parliament or immediately after that.
"As the formation of new body to replace the Planning Commission requires change in transactions rules, it might take some time," the official added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his maiden Independence Day speech, had announced the winding up of the Planning Commission and replacing it with a new body. The government held a series of meetings with experts and analysts on the shape of the new body.
In between, the role and functions of the erstwhile Commission was gradually reduced. Its financial might was clipped through a recent circular which directed all major ministries and departments to furnish their Plan Budget estimates for 2015-16 directly to it.
This also marked a formal shift of responsibility of determining the annual plan expenditure from the Planning Commission to the finance ministry and means that the new body will not have the power, clout or financial muscle of the old Planning Commission.
Ministries and departments, too, are no longer waiting for a formal nod from the commission before sending their programmes and schemes for cabinet approval.