Pushing for social sector reforms, the Planning Commission on Friday agreed to reduce the number of Central government schemes with an aim to focus on quality rather than quantity.
The Central government provided over Rs 10,00,000 crore in the 11th five-year-plan for around 185 schemes of which Rs 6,91,000 crore was provided under 13 popular programmes.
There has been a view in the plan panel and among state governments that the Centre should reduce the number of schemes and instead, provide “flexi-funds” to different sectors.
“We want to provide funds under a few schemes to improve efficiency and accountability,” said plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia after the meeting on approach paper to the 12th plan.
A committee headed by BK Chaturvedi, a panel member, will submit a blue-print on reducing the schemes by this year-end, which would be discussed before taking a final call.
Earlier, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said at the meeting that a Cabinet note will be circulated on having an integrated scheme for rural water, sanitation and housing. “The existing three schemes are not working…we have to look at integrated approach,” he said.
Home minister P Chidambaram emphasized on the need to work on quality of the programme rather than quantity. Not just a reduction in schemes, finance minister Pranab Mukerjee wanted effective utilisation of funds as percentage of gross domestic product is expected to fall in the 12th plan (2012-17) due to a fall in disinvestment. “Link outcome to future allocation of funds,” he suggested.
With the reduction in schemes, the panel also agreed for convergence of programmes to end the silo mentality in the Central government ministries. "Plans and schemes are developed along the jurisdictional lines of the ministries based on vertical management and decision system,” said the approach paper for the 12th plan.
The emphasis is on convergence of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with other rural development schemes such as agriculture and water resources. Another key area of social sector reform agreed was on providing money under flagship schemes for capacity building at the panchayat level.