In a move to provide more flexibility to state governments for proper implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes, the Centre on Thursday decided to merge them in 66 schemes and allow 10 per cent flexibility to the states.
The Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the proposal of the Planning Commission to restructure all the centrally-sponsored schemes into 66 schemes.
These include 17 flagship programmes with significant outlays for major interventions required in health, education, irrigation, urban development, infrastructure, including rural infrastructure and skill development.
To suit the requirements of the states, the Cabinet has also approved that a scheme may have state specific guidelines which may be recommended by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted for this purpose. Besides, the financial assistance to the states in these schemes would be provided through the consolidated funds of the states.
Briefing on the decisions of the Cabinet, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said though work on the restructured schemes would begin this year, the bulk of it would come only from the next financial year. “The states had been complaining that the guidelines of centrally-sponsored schemes were rigid. We have now made the guidelines more flexible and given 10 percent flexibility to the states in the implementation of such schemes,” he said.
Ahluwaia pointed out that it means of the Rs 1.86 lakh crore, the government spends on the centrally-sponsored schemes, around Rs 18,700 crore would be available to the states to be spent at their discretion.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in his Budget speech, had stated that the Centre is concerned about the proliferation of centrally sponsored schemes and that each scheme would be reviewed and restructured.
Earlier, the NDC, while approving the 12th plan, had also recommended building flexibility in the schemes to suit the requirements of the state governments.