170 centrally sponsored schemes merged for more impact

170 centrally sponsored schemes merged for more impact

Move aims to make development produce more effective results

Aiming to make development produce more effective results on the ground, the government on Thursday approved clubbing of over 170 centrally sponsored scheme (at the end of 11th five year plan) to 66.

This follows the announcement by Finance Minister P Chidambaram during his budget speech, in which he had said that the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) would be brought down to about 70.

The government will also alter the scheme guidelines to suit the requirements of the states, offering them greater flexibility to spend up to 10 per cent of the allocated sums, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman  Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

The CSS, with an annual expenditure of Rs 2,73,000 crore is expected to be reviewed once in two years.

Ahluwalia said the states will have flexibility to spend under any scheme (up to 10 per cent of the allocation) if the project falls within the broad guidelines of the scheme.
The CSS will include 17 flagship programmes with significant outlays for major interventions required in health, education, irrigation, urban development, infrastructure sectors,” a statement issued after the meeting said. "To suit the requirements of the states, the Cabinet has also approved that a scheme may have state specific guidelines which may be recommended by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted for this purpose," it said.

"Besides, the financial assistance to the states in these schemes would be provided through the Consolidated Funds of the states. Further, to bring in desired flexibility, the Cabinet has approved that 10 per cent of the outlay of the schemes be kept as flexi-funds," it added. For each new scheme, at least 25 per cent of funds may be contributed by the general category states and 10 percent of funds by the special category states including J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the statement said.

The CSS are special purpose grants the Centre extends to states to encourage state governments to plan and implement programmes that help attain national goals and objectives., Extending clean drinking water and sanitation to every habitation, eradicating polio and tuberculosis, making primary education universal for every female and male child etc are examples of some schemes that would qualify for the funds.

The CSS are formulated by concerned ministries and departments and implemented through counterpart state level departments.  In recent years, however, serious questions have been raised over the efficacy of such schemes.