Funds utilisation of Central schemes to be made flexible

The Planning Commission today approved Kerala’s Plan outlay of Rs 17,000 crore for 2013-14, a little over 21 per cent higher than that for the last financial year.

The annual Plan size was finalised here at a meeting between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

After the meeting, Ahluwalia said, “I was quite impressed by the (State’s) proposal to set up a separate capital development fund which will give greater flexibility in deploying resources. We covered all sectors and we are hopeful that Kerala will do well and may give an example to the rest of the country.”

“The Rs 17,000-crore Plan is fully funded .... Many members pointed out that in social areas, education, health, infant mortality and so on, Kerala has been leading,” he told reporters.

He also said the Chief Minister has drawn attention to certain new areas such as education that can relate to people with disability.

“Management of solid waste is a major problem all over the country and the State government has expressed interest in working with us to see various sides of PPP projects, viability gap funding and so on,” he added.

Chandy said, “Flexibility will be allowed for spending on Centrally-sponsored schemes.”

Cabinet note

Ahluwalia said a Cabinet note will be moved to give greater flexibility to the States in the use of funds for Centrally sponsored schemes.

“We will move a Cabinet note for a greater flexibility in the use of centrally sponsored schemes. Hopefully, that will be cleared by the Cabinet next week. I have invited the State governments to submit recommendations what kind of flexibility they want and as soon as we receive this, we will try to do the best as we can do,” he added. Chandy said the State government will submit its proposal next week about the recommendations to use the funds under the Centrally sponsored schemes.

Our Bureau adds from Thiruvananthapuram: The Centre has met a long-pending demand of the State by promising to look into how norms for fund utilisation for Centrally-sponsored schemes could be made flexible.

The State has had major issues with achieving deployment and utilisation of funds made available under Centrally-sponsored schemes.

It has all along been making demands for flexibility in the norms for implementing the schemes, given the particular environment obtaining in a densely-populated and resource-scarce State.

The demand found resonance in the recommendations made in the B. K.Chaturvedi Commission report in 2011 on restructuring Centrally-sponsored schemes.

SCHEME FUNDS

Kudumbashree and other non-governmental organisations will be encouraged to cultivate fallow land and norms of the scheme would be suitably amended.

Similarly, watershed management schemes would be brought under the rural employment guarantee programme.

The Chaturvedi Commission report was of the view that criteria for allocation of scheme funds to different States need to be more transparent.

Inter-distribution amongst States needs to be based on equitable notified criteria.

(This article was published on April 8, 2013)
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