New Delhi: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has opposed Planning Commission's move to bring changes in central fund releasing pattern for flagship programmes to the states, saying it would transfer all control to Finance Ministry while other departments will be reduced to being "bystanders".

The Rural Development Minister expressed "grave concern" over the move to convert flagship programmes like MNREGA, rural road scheme and drinking water and sanitation from Centrally-Sponsored Schemes (CSS) to Additional Central Assistance (ACA) programmes, saying it would cause "severe delays in disbursement" of funds to the states.
In a letter to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Ramesh said the implication of the move is that the Finance Ministry would "control all releases and the ministries concerned would be reduced to merely bystanders."

"I am simply unable to understand the logic for this move," the Minister said in the letter urging him "not to press ahead with this move under any grab".

According to sources, flagship programmes, which are currently classified as CSS, will now be reclassified as ACA and the fund disbursal through ACA will come into effect from 2013-14.

While earlier the the concerned ministries would give the funds directly to state government agencies for implementation, under ACA the full financial control will be vested with Finance Ministry, thus "diminishing the monitoring and implementation role of other ministries", the sources claimed.

The social sector programmes, which would be impacted, include the HRD Ministry's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-day Meals, and the programmes being run by Health Ministry.

Ramesh noted that the National Social Assistance Programme once went from being Centrally-sponsored Scheme to an ACA one and its result has been "severe delays in disbursement of old age, widow and disabled pensions".


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