Wednesday, January 20, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Plan panel considers earmarking 15% budgetary support for SC/ST schemes

Plan panel considers earmarking 15% budgetary support for SC/ST schemes

Priyadarshi Siddhanta Posted online: Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 0148 hrs
New Delhi : Eager to revive its image among the under-privileged
sections of the society, the United Progessive Alliance (UPA) is keen
to ensure that the funds spent by all the central ministries are
earmarked for the marginalised groups, particularly the Scheduled
Castes (SCs) and Scheduled
Tribes (STs), in proportion to their population.

The Planning Commission is actively considering a proposal of the
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment that all union ministries
earmark at least 15 per cent of their respective Gross Budgetary
Support (GBS) for the welfare schemes of SCs and STs in the next

The proposal by the social justice ministry amply exemplifies UPA's
eagerness to woo the SCs/STs , who are believed to have drifted away
from from the Congress party to regional parties championed by
regional leaders like Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. So the UPA
leadership is understood to have unanimously endorsed the thought of
outlaying huge funds for the welfare of the marginalised populace in a
bid to exemplify its thrust on inclusiveness, sources said. Recently,
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had directed the Planning Commission
to ensure that the funds allocated for the socially disadvantaged
groups — SCs/STs and OBCs — are spent in a time-bound manner.

The move comes at a time when the Congress, under party general
secretary Rahul Gandhi, is making a vigorous bid to regain its lost
ground in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. With the
finance ministry agreeing to a 15 per cent hike in GBS, the overall
tone of the next Budget is set to be on the social sector, the sources
pointed out. Among the major social sector programmes that are likely
to get major allocations include the food security bill and right to
education for all. Sources said the Food Security Bill, which aims to
provide subsidised grain at Rs 3 per kg to Below Poverty Line (BPL)
households, would mean an expenditure of Rs 25,000 crore

(on the basis of the current BPL population).

But interestingly in pursuit of its aam aadmi agenda, the UPA II has
withdrawn its focus from the rural development schemes, except the
flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, to
the social sector schemes.

The Prime Minister had asked the Plan panel to closely monitor the
implementation of schemes specially focused on this segment of society
and ensure that the benefits reach the masses. The Plan panel has
accordingly mooted a separate independent evaluation office (IEO) to
assess the extent to which the government's flagship schemes are
benefiting the poor. The evaluation of the IEO would be different from
the Mid-Term Appraisal in the sense that the IEO would look at the
performance of specific social welfare schemes, while the MTA would
take a comprehensive stock of the whole plan strategy.


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