Anti-poverty plans may be pruned

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi, Jan 29 | Updated: Jan 30 2008, 05:39am hrs
The Centre, in order to achieve effective results and further strengthen its anti-poverty programmes, has decided to cut down the number of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) run by various ministries to 99 from the current 214. There were many schemes whose objectives were overlapping with each other and there was a huge administrative cost of running each scheme. We expect to further prune the list of CSSs from 99 to 25 over the next two years, sources told FE.

However, this would not impact the overall budgetary allocation for rural development programmes. The government spends close to Rs 81,000 crore through various CSSs annually.

A high-powered committee constituted by the Planning Commission in 2006 had recommended that the 214-odd Central schemes be substantially converged into a few focused schemes. The Planning Commission set up the committee, chaired by former bureaucrat Arvind Varma, to rationalise CSSs for effective results and to orient them to the functioning of panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). The committee had recommended that to make CSSs effective and to strengthen PRIs, the Central schemes must be reviewed. The panel also suggested winding up of 130 schemes with an annual outlay of less than Rs 300 crore.

The ball, for cutting down the number of CSSs, was set rolling in Budget 2006-07. It was then stated that the bulk of the resources from the Centre would go to United Progressive Alliances (UPAs) eight flagship programmes such as National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Drinking Water Mission, Integrated Child Development Services and others. It is believed that all CSSs will be redistributed among these flagship programmes.