Scope for prun­ing Cen­tral schemes, says Plan panel

The Political and Business Daily - - FRONT PAGE - PBD BUREAU/PTI

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.

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