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PM to resolve 'foreign' experts issue

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Last updated on: September 28, 2004 14:46 IST

In a bid to defuse the crisis over appointment of 'foreign' experts in the Planning Commission, its Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Tuesday said he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and exuded confidence on finding a solution shortly.

Ahluwalia met members of the commission over the issue that rocked the government's economic think-tank following stiff resistance from the Left parties over keeping these experts in the consultative groups of the Commission for mid-term appraisal of the 10th Plan.

"We have discussed with the members of the commission and will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a day or two to resolve the issue," he told reporters after the meeting, held within a day after his return from abroad.

"The issue will be resolved in a few days. The commission is unanimous," he said when asked about the views of the other members and as to what course of action the commission was going to take.

Left economists in the commission had threatened to withdraw from its consultative groups as a protest against the inclusion of 'foreign' experts from World Bank, ADB and Mckinsey in the groups set up for mid-term appraisal of the Tenth Plan to be finalised by December end.

Ahluwalia dismissed as 'speculative' the queries about his reported formula to resolve the issue.

He had said in Geneva on Monday: "You have to listen to all points of view before arriving at a decision."

Tuesday's meeting was attended by three members including Abhijeet Sen, who's wife Jayati Ghosh is among the five economists who have threatened to quit, Kirit Parekh and Sayeda Hameed.

The issue snowballed into a major controversy after five Left economists threatened to quit consultation groups in protest against Ahluwalia's justification from London about the presence of these experts from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and McKinsey.

Ahluwalia did not take any question on whether these experts had already quit. These institutions are reported to have written to Ahluwalia that they would withdraw from the consultation groups to avert any crisis.

The Left economists had earlier written a letter to Ahluwalia stating that the commission was not a 'debating society. It is an organ of Indian state,' and had asked the government to reconsider its decision to include the 'foreign' experts in the commission's consultative groups offering to quit.

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