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More money for UPA pet projects

Despite poor financial performance of several flagship schemes, the UPA has gone ahead with higher allocation for them in the next fiscal, reports Chetan Chauhan.
By Chetan Chauhan | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2008 10:28 PM IST

Despite poor financial performance of several flagship schemes, the UPA has gone ahead with higher allocation for them in the next fiscal.

The government plans to allocate Rs 1,16,170 crore, almost half of the gross budgetary support of Rs 2,44,000 crore, to these 21 flagship programmes against the Rs 74,349 crore allocated in the current financial year. This shows the UPA’s focus is on the social sector before the general elections in 2009, a government official said.

The 2008-09 budget will be the last budget of the UPA government before the next general elections. In place of the 2009-10 budget, the government will present a vote on account. With its hands tied for the next budget, the government plans to increase allocation for crucial flagship programmes during the monsoon session of Parliament, for which a special provision was being made, officials said.

However, till January 21, government ministries were able to spend only Rs 46,139 crore of the funds allocated for these schemes. This may well result in a money-spending spree as all funds have to be utilised before March 31, end of the current financial year.

The Planning Commission’s performance report indicates the worst performing scheme is the Backward Regions Grant Fund administered by the Panchayati Raj Ministry. Of the allocated Rs 5,000 crores, the ministry was able to utilise only Rs 1,074 crore till January.

The National Horticulture Mission could spend only Rs 581 crore of the Rs 1,000 crore it was allocated. The rural water supply scheme and rural sanitation programme had less than 50 per cent fund utilization rate.

However, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the Midday Meal scheme and the accelerated irrigation programme have done well with over 80 per cent utilisation.

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