Planning Commission The Bangladesh Planning Commission is the central planning organization of the country. It determines objectives, goals and strategies of medium and short-term plans within the framework of long-term perspective, and formulates policy measures for the achievement of planned goals and targets.
The prime goal of Bangladesh liberation struggle in 1971 was rapid improvement of living standard of the masses. This vision for higher living standard for the masses has been enshrined in the Bangladesh Constitution. The state of Bangladesh through its Constitution (Article-15) committed to a higher living standard for its people by providing basic needs to all its citizens through planned development. With this objective of planned development for the country, the Bangladesh Planning Commission was established in January 1972.
The Bangladesh Planning Commission had its roots in pre-independence Bangladesh. In the mid 1950s a Provincial Planning Board was established under the United Front Government of the then East Pakistan. It was an important agency for formulating investment programmes and for negotiating with the Central Government of Pakistan for an adequate share of the financial resources for the development of East Pakistan. The Planning Board undertook the task of appraising and evaluating East Pakistan development projects of a certain size. Later the Bangladesh Government in exile established a Planning Cell which was an embryonic start of the present Planning Commission. The Planning Cell established during the war of liberation was mainly concerned with formulating a programme of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the economy of post-independence Bangladesh. After the Liberation, one of the first decisions the Bangladesh Government made was to establish the Planning Commission and to appoint the Deputy Chairperson and members of the Commission' on 31 January 1972. The Cabinet decision in establishing the Planning Commission laid down ten functions for the Commission. This can be brought down to three broad sets of functions.
• to prepare the short and mid-term and long-term plans viz. Annual Development Programme, Five Year Plan and Perspective Plans;
• to make recommendation as well as being involved in the process of deliberation on a range of policies and institutional changes which were necessary for the implementation and realisation of the Plan objectives; and
• to co-ordinate the economic policies, both short and long-term, to be under taken by the various ministries.
In addition, the Planning Commission was to serve as the secretariat for major economic policy questions and for initiating the appraisal of development projects and programmes by the National Economic Council (NEC). The NEC was created to serve as the economic mini-cabinet consisting of the main economic ministers of the cabinet and headed by the Prime Minister. The terms of reference of the executive committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) are as follows: (a) to consider and approve development projects; (b) to review the progress of implementation of projects; and (c) to monitor the overall performance of the economy and related policy issues.
Activities of the Planning Commission includes the following elements of development planning:
• Policy Planning: determination of goals, objectives, priorities, strategies and policy measures for development plans;
• Sectoral Planning: identification of the role that the various sectors of the economy are required to play in the context of the Plan objectives and goals;
• Programme Planning: formulation of detailed resource allocation to realize the Plan objectives and goals;
• Project Planning: appraisal of projects embodying investment decisions for the implementation of the sectoral plans; and
• Evaluation: impact analysis of projects, programmes and plans on the people’s living standard.
Functions of the Bangladesh Planning Commission in more concrete terms are:
• Formulation of country’s medium-term (5 years) macro plan within the framework of long-term (15-20 years) perspective.
• Formulation of the Three Year Rolling Investment Programme (TYRIP) in consistence with the Five Year Plan.
• Formulation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
• Preparation of Annual Development Programme (ADP) within the framework of TYRIP and Five Year Plan.
• Appraisal of project proposals for the ECNEC and the Minister for Planning.
• Evaluation of Plans and their impact on the economic development.
• Undertaking and promotion of research to support development planning.
The Commission formulates five-year economic plans. However, planned development of the country can be traced in two phases, phase one: between 1947 and 1970 during Pakistan period, and phase two: the Bangladesh period. In the first phase there were three five-year plans including a six-year development plan from 1951 to 1970. In the second phase it took sometime to consolidate the administrative structure and reconstruction of infrastructure of the war-ravaged country and gather information for preparation of development plan. The First Five-Year plan of Bangladesh covered the period 1973-78. Then, instead of launching the Second Five Year Plan, a Two Year Plan for the period 1978-80 was taken up. The Second Five-Year, Third Five-Year and Fourth Five-Year plans were launched during 1980-95. The Fifth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002) started after a gap of two years. Government undertook preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan (both interim PRSP and full PRSP) following Fifth Five year Plan during 2003-2011.
The Planning Commission is essentially a professional body. But since planning is a political process it works under the guidance of a minister. But ultimate decision-making rests with the head of the government ie the prime minister who is the chairperson of the Commission. The Minister for Planning is the vice-chairman of the Commission. At the policy level, the Commission consists of vice chairman and five members. Secretary Planning Division acts as the member-secretary of the Commission. The Planning Division provides the administrative and secretarial support to the Planning Commission. Under the members there are six divisions which are further sub-divided into thirty functional wings. Two of the divisions deal with the general macro issues of the economy viz. General Economics Division and Programming Division. Four sectoral divisions are Agricultural, Water Resources and Rural Institutions Division; Industry and Energy Division; Socio-Economic Infrastructure Division and Physical Infrastructure Division. These divisions deal with the planning and policy issues of different sectors of the economy.
The Planning Commission officials below the Members belong to the Bangladesh Civil Service BCS (Economic) cadre, and administered by the Planning Division. Chiefs headed the divisions and wings are headed by joint chiefs. Wings are further sub-divided into branches and headed by deputy chiefs, and desks are manned by senior assistant chiefs/assistant chiefs of the Planning Commission.
In preparing Five Year Plan, The Annual Development Programme and in carrying out the process of project appraisal and approval, the Planning Commission interacts with different ministries / divisions/ agencies of the Government.
Data is the pre-requisite of development planning. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) meets comprehensive data requirements of the Planning Commission. Finance Division (FD) and Internal Resource Division (IRD) advise the Planning Commission on matters of resource availability and formulation of fiscal and monetary policy. The role of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) in the functioning of the Planning Commission is very important. ADP implementation under the Five Year Plan framework is monitored by the IMED and the Planning Commission takes corrective steps accordingly. Given the country's heavy dependence on official development assistance (ODA) from the international community for development planning, the role of Economic Relations Division (ERD) is also very important. ERD mobilizes ODA to meet saving-investment gap in the development planning. At the micro level, ERD lines up project aids for implementation of ADP. Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) gives backup research support to the Planning Commission whenever necessary. Planning and Development Academy supports the Commission by providing training inputs for its officials. Finally the Commission submits plans, programmes and projects to the NEC/ECNEC for formal approval. [Muhammad Abdul Mazid]