Eye on polls, FM to review flagship plans

Written by Arun S | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 9 2012, 07:01am hrs
Keeping the 2014 general elections in mind, the UPA government will soon start a micro-management exercise with states, public sector banks (PSBs) and state-run financial institutions.

Finance minister P Chidambarams this months planner includes a nationwide tour to meet the chief ministers of states and heads of PSBs and state-run financial institutions, to personally access the operation of flagship schemes in states and study the functioning of the banking system and their success in promoting financial inclusion.

The finance minister's tour will cover banking networks zone-wise, with the first visit to north zone in New Delhi on November 16 followed by the south zone meeting in Bangalore on November 20, official sources told FE. The dates for meetings with other zones are being worked out. The governments strategy here is to give a further thrust to its aam aadmi-oriented flagship schemes as well as employment generation and financial inclusion programmes in banking, pension and insurance sectors, in addition to expediting big-ticket infrastructure projects.

These meetings will explore ways to expedite pending projects in sectors such as power, coal, petroleum, natural gas and other infrastructure sectors, the sources said.

Projectsmostly over Rs.1,000-1,500 crore and totalling around R1.5 lakh croreare pending mainly on account of lack of environmental clearances. Many projects have also been delayed as developers have been finding it difficult to get the required funds from banks and FIs due to reasons ranging from problems in getting environmental/forest clearances to land acquisition-related issues.

The focus of these mees would also be on assessing the progress of implementation of financial inclusion programmes such as Swabhimaan (ensuring basic banking services to unbanked villages with a population of over 2,000 people) and progress on the campaign to ensure at least one bank account for every family.

It will also look at the progress on the Aam Aadmi Bhima Yojana (making sure that at least the head of a rural landless family or one earning member in the family is insured) and the Swavalamban pension scheme for the unorganised sector (where the Centre contributes R1,000 a year to its subscribers and the PSBs act as aggregators/points of presence).

Figuring prominently in the agenda will be the impact of the centrally sponsored schemes in each state and taking forward important pending projects related to states, the sources said.