Monday, October 24, 2011

Poor fund use may hit welfare schemes

by N.J. Nair

Governments cannot slash allocation

Poor utilisation of Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) funds allocated to local self-government institutions is likely to affect the execution of welfare measures drawn up for the marginalised sections in the State.

There are complaints that civic bodies could expend only one per cent of the Rs.125.19 crore allocated under this head in the budget for 2011-12. Since the fourth State Finance Commission has made an in-built provision in allocating funds for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other marginalised sections, successive governments cannot slash the allocation on flimsy grounds. TSP funds are mainly aimed at taking up welfare measures and developing infrastructure facilities in tribal hamlets and colonies.

Civic bodies are at liberty to take up imaginative projects that would help improve the quality of life of the beneficiaries. The local governments can utilise the funds to improve sanitation, medical and educational facilities, development of anganwadis and also infrastructure facilities. But stringent norms have been laid to prevent diversion and misuse of funds in the guise of doling out sops to individual beneficiaries.

Lack of imaginative and feasible projects has been cited as one of the main reason for poor absorption rate. Lapses in project preparation affect the absorption rate too. Civic representatives put the onus on the government saying that it had been frequently amending and issuing fresh guidelines for expending the funds. Some of them complain that most of the guidelines are too ambiguous and are beyond their comprehension. Civic representatives should have the skill to make optimum use of the sanctioned funds within the framework, or it would be misused, sources said.

According M.A.Oommen, chairman of the fourth State Finance Commission, there was always an implicit diversion of resources set apart for the tribal people. It was this realisation that prompted the commission to recommend a preferential treatment for the weaker sections.

Source :