Centre may raise spending on SC and ST welfare schemes by 40 pct

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December 5, 2017 7:04 AM

The Centre's Budget allocations for scheduled castes and tribes’ (SC&ST) welfare could leapfrog 40% if a “new arrangement” proposed by a high-level committee is put in place.

centre budget, budget allocation, sc, st, welfare schemeThe Centre’s Budget allocations for scheduled castes and tribes’ (SC&ST) welfare could leapfrog 40% if a “new arrangement” proposed by a high-level committee is put in place.

The Centre’s Budget allocations for scheduled castes and tribes’ (SC&ST) welfare could leapfrog 40% if a “new arrangement” proposed by a high-level committee is put in place. The Ratan P Watal committee has recommended that, of the Centre’s scheme funds, SC/ST wellbeing be allocated not less than what corresponds to half of their numerical strength to the country’s total population, official sources told FE. The panel was asked to propose a new formula in this regard given that the practice of Five-year Plan allocations has been dispensed with. In the 12th Plan period (FY13-17), SC/ST welfare was supposed to receive Plan funds commensurate with these communities’ population, though it actually did not. Although the panel has halved mandatory share, if its proposal is implemented, SC/ST welfare will receive higher outlays because the disbursal is to be made from a much larger pool than Plan funds, namely the “central-sector and centrally sponsored sponsored schemes”. These schemes’ budget outlay for the current financial year is `9.45 lakh crore, up 65% from the Plan budget in FY17.

So if the Watal formula had been adopted for the current financial year, an additional Rs 34,000 crore would have been earmarked for SC/ST welfare, over and above the Budget estimate of Rs 84,250 crore. As per census 2011, SC (16.6%) and ST (8.6%) have a share of more than a quarter of the country’s population. Which means if the Watal formula is applied, an eighth of the total funds under central-sector and centrally sponsored schemes must be used for the welfare of SC/ST communities. The sources said the Watal panel’s report, which has recently been submitted to the finance ministry, is likely to be implemented from FY19 onwards. The upcoming Union Budget may reflect the new formula. While SC/ST organisations have been demanding that their share in the government schemes be proportionate to their share in population, officials said there were practical difficulties in earmarking separate funds for them in infrastructure projects, etc, while it is possible to stick to the share in family-oriented schemes like job guarantee, scholarship and free LPG schemes.

So if the Watal formula had been adopted for the current financial year, an additional Rs 34,000 crore would have been earmarked for SC/ST welfare, over and above the Budget estimate of Rs 84,250 crore. As per census 2011, SC (16.6%) and ST (8.6%) have a share of more than a quarter of the country’s population. Which means if the Watal formula is applied, an eighth of the total funds under central-sector and centrally sponsored schemes must be used for the welfare of SC/ST communities. The sources said the Watal panel’s report, which has recently been submitted to the finance ministry, is likely to be implemented from FY19 onwards. The upcoming Union Budget may reflect the new formula. While SC/ST organisations have been demanding that their share in the government schemes be proportionate to their share in population, officials said there were practical difficulties in earmarking separate funds for them in infrastructure projects, etc, while it is possible to stick to the share in family-oriented schemes like job guarantee, scholarship and free LPG schemes.

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