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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

PC's expenditure reform hits plan panel roadblock

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 11, 2013
First Published: 01:05 IST(11/3/2013) | Last Updated: 01:07 IST(11/3/2013)

An audacious attempt by finance minister P Chidambaram to handover the implementation of all central schemes with annual allocations of less than Rs. 300 crore to state governments has come a cropper.

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Individual ministries that centrally-run these schemes have put up strong resistance to this proposal. "The proposal has been termed as non-implementable by the central ministries because of the complexities involved," planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia told HT.

However, the total number of central schemes will come down to 70 from 147 from 2013-14 if the panel's proposal is accepted by the Cabinet. This will be achieved by merging similar schemes and having one big scheme for a sector. 

The idea was to have lesser number of schemes with national objectives rather than spending the government money through wide spectrum resulting in diffused outcomes.

While the Cabinet note circulated by the Planning Commission terms infeasibility as reason behind its rejection, the panel officials said the bureaucracy feared that Chidambaram's plan would result in pruning of senior positions in different ministries.

There is at least one officer in-charge of a scheme in each ministry and these positions would have been lost if these schemes were transferred to the state governments, officials said. 

The note says that most of the existing schemes would be retained in same or a modified form in a bid to overcome bureaucratic resistance. The note, if approved by the Cabinet, would be implemented for disbursement of around Rs. 3,00,000 crore from the next financial year.

The note, however, appeases Chidambaram a bit as the panel has agreed to reduce the number of total central schemes from 147 to around 70 sector specific schemes.


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