Plan panel for revamping norms for funding SC/ST schemes

Plan panel for revamping norms for funding SC/ST schemes

New Delhi: A plan panel task force on Thursday recommended overhauling the guidelines for ensuring fool proof allocation of funds by central ministries for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe welfare schemes.

The task force headed by Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav has also suggested classification of ministries into four categories for earmarking funds for improving the living standard of SC/ST.

At present, all ministries are mandated to earmark 16.2 and 8.2% of their plan expenditure for SC and ST sub plans, respectively.

Presenting the recommendations of the task force to planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in New Delhi, Jadhav said, “Only one ministry out of 68 central ministries has clearly earmarked funds for SC/ST sub plans and we are not clear as to where the money is going."

Jadhav said, “In the current year (2010-11) around Rs68,000 crore was to be spent exclusively for SC/ST by the central ministries but the committee found that earmarking by various ministries was not clear enough to ensure that the intended benefit goes to the section."

Receiving the report Ahluwalia said the recommendation of the task force would reflect in the budgetary allocations for the next fiscal. The second set of recommendation for states would be submitted by the task force so that it could be implemented in next fiscal, he added.

The committee has classified 43 ministries under Category-I where they don’t have any obligation to earmark money under SC/ST sub plans. These central ministries and departments are engaged in regulatory functions, basic scientific research, addressing target groups other than SC/ST, implementing large infrastructure projects whose benefit to SC/ST may be difficult to quantify.

Category-I includes ministries of home affairs, external affairs, law and justice, civil aviation, economic affairs, coal and pharmaceuticals.

Under Category-II, there would be ministries which mainly belong to Category-I but also implement some beneficiary oriented schemes. The committee recommended that the Category-II ministries should earmark up to 15% of funds under ST sub-plan and up to 7.5% funds under ST sub plan.

Category-II ministries include power, textiles, new and renewable energy, development of Northeast regions, environment and forests.