Scope for pruning Central schemes, says Plan panel
THE Government can explore the possibility of further reducing number of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) as well as changing design, according to Planning Commission.
Last year, the Union Cabinet had decided to restructure the existing CSS/Additional Central Assistance (ACA) schemes in the 12th Five Year Plan (201217) into 66 schemes. In the Budget Estimates of 201314, budgetary provision has been made for 137 CSS and 5 Scheme-based ACA excluding block grants.
"Further changes in design of schemes and further reduction in number (of CSS) can be explored," the Commission said in a presentation to the new Planning Minister Rao Inderjit Singh.
Commission is of the view that the CSS as part of the state Plan, will help "improve transparency and accountability".
The restructured schemes include 17 flagship programmes for major interventions required in health, education, irrigation, urban development, infrastructure and skill development.
Earlier, the country's apex policy making body, National Development Council, while approving 12th Plan in its meeting in Dec 2012, had also recommended building flexibility in the schemes to suit the requirements of states.
The Cabinet had also approved a proposal that CSS may have state specific guidelines and the financial assistance to states in these schemes would be provided through the consolidated Funds of the states. Thus CSS are part of state plans.
Further, to bring in desired flexibility, the Cabinet had approved that 10 pc of the outlay of the CSS will be kept as flexi-funds to suit the requirements of states. The guidelines for the purpose were made operational from 2014-15.
According to a senior official, besides restructuring of the CSS, government should also use Public Finance Management System (PFMS) to improve the delivery of various government schemes.
The PFMS provides real time information on fund releases to ministries and states. It allows real time tracking of expenditure at central and state levels. At present all central (fund) releases are available online.