India’s developmental programmes may witnessed a paradigm shift with the Planning Commission wanting to introduce a concept of “flexi-funds”, make innovation a central theme for implementing schemes and providing financial incentive to implement Forest Rights Act and Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act.
The new approach is result of the country’s topmost planning advisory body, the panel’s consultation in different parts of the country regarding 12th five year plan.
And, these are some of the contours of the broad agreement that are likely to be shared with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior cabinet ministers at a full plan panel meeting later this month.
The commission will introduce a “flexi fund” concept in each of the flaghship programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Bharat Nirman.
“There will be some money provided in each flagship programmes which the state governments will be able to spend as per local needs…this will helping in making the Central schemes in tune with ground realities,” said a senior plan panel member, who was not willing to be quoted.
Some chief ministers including Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Gujarat’s Narendra Modi have been asking for making Central government schemes flexible to the help the state government in improving efficiency. They also said that it should be left to the states on how to implement the scheme with the Central government enumerating broad guidelines.
While the commission has not agreed with this suggestion it has not been averse to making the schemes flexible. “One state may want to use NREGA fund for watershed management whereas another may like to use it for draining out excess water,” the member explained.
In a new development governance model being propagated, the plan panel wants to provide certain funds to the district administration in the first two years to empower the Panchayati Raj bodies, improve its own capacity for implementing schemes and creating a sound monitoring mechanism with involvement of people.
“If the districts are able to take these innovative steps funds will be provided for the next three years,” the member said, adding that innovation will be a key to spend central government funds.
The plan panel is also agreeable with the view of many chief ministers that it is impossible to implement such a large number (over 1,100) of the Central government schemes.
“There should be few flagship schemes and few other to supplement them. There are many schemes which have lost their relevance but are being continued because they provide employment to large number of bureaucracy,” a senior plan panel official said.
Another condition likely to be imposed is linking implementation of FRA and PESA for fund disbursement in the Central India, which has a large tribal population.