A senior Niti Aayog official today made a case for doing away with the practice of notional allocation of funds for SCs and STs, saying all ministries and departments should have schemes to directly benefit them.
The suggestion was made by Aayog's Principal Adviser (Social Sector) Ratan P Watal at a meeting to discuss the new arrangement for earmarking of funds for SCs and STs in view of discontinuation of the system of planning and merger of Plan and non-Plan expenditure from the current fiscal.
While chairing the meeting, Watal emphasised that the practice of notional earmarking of funds for SCs and STs has to discontinue, according to an official release.
"Ministries/departments which do not have any schemes under which funds can be earmarked for SCs and STs may consider designing schemes that directly benefit SCs and STs," said the release quoting him.
Monitoring of expenditure, output and outcome should be against actual earmarking, said the former finance secretary.
Many "valuable suggestions" were made by the participants in the meeting, the release added.
Others having issues regarding earmarking were requested to furnish their suggestions and comments separately so that the same could be considered while finalising recommendations for earmarking of funds for SCs and STs, the release said.
As of now, funds are earmarked for SCs and STs under the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) as per the guidelines of the task force constituted by the erstwhile Planning Commission.
The task force had recommended differential earmarking of funds -- different rates for identified ministries and departments for the sub-plans under Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and Central Sector (CS) Schemes implemented by each.
"Promoting socio-economic interest of SCs and STs is a constitutional mandate. Therefore, in view of change in system of budgeting, the Niti Aayog had to look for a new arrangement for allocation so that funds are provided adequately for inclusive development of these vulnerable communities," said the government think-tank.
According to the release, the matter was discussed widely with all stakeholders, including Samavesh Forum of the Niti Aayog, with the objective of improving and upgrading the guidelines.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the central ministries and departments, state governments and national commissions for SCs and STs.
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