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‘5Os or 2014 ? Queer !

JIP Assesses

What should have happened in India from 1950s has finally happened (!) now : After 60-odd years, Complicated, labyrinthine, mish-mash, helter-skelter (all leading to the all round backwardness of India in all sectors making Indians flagrant hance-nots, India with begging bowl) Cabinet nod out for projects under Rs 1,000 crore. Prime Minister  Narendra Modi has fully empowered ministers, ministries : henceforth Cabinet nod — that too, if at all necessary in view of security etc reasons —only for Rs 1000 crore and above. …

In a move that is aimed at speeding up the decision making process, Prime Minister Narendra Modihas decided that various ministries can now approve projects up to Rs 1000 crore without the Cabinet approval.

Till now the process entailed complicatedly interwined never-ending inter-ministerial discussions, Finance Ministry being kept in loop and finally the cabinet approval with countless hiccups (in many cases rejected on flimsiest possible pretexts).

Before this new clearance from Modi, helpless ministries were required to seek Cabinet approval for projects above Rs 200 crore. The five fold hike in the discretionary spending power of ministries is meant to allow faster clearances of projects, particularly those related to infrastructure.

The infrastructure sector is a key focus area for the Modi-led government. The Centre is keen to speed up infrastructure development and investment to boost economic growth which remained at sub-5 per cent level during the previous two fiscals.

That’s not all. Government is set to finalise the policy for implementing its ambitious plan to convert 100 existing cities into smart cities, where it will allow large-scale participation of private sector.

Apart from the 100 existing cities that will be retrofitted to smart cities, the government is also considering developing three-four greenfield cities, urban development secretary Shankar Aggarwal told JUST IN PRINT. A key to developing the smart cities will be unravelling the large number of rules and regulations that have slowed down development for years, the secretary said.

PM Modi has already asked the government to revisit all old rules and regulations, manuals and laws, and cut them down wherever needed

The Rs 1,000 crore-plus norm will apply for all Cabinet-level clearances, except in cases “where special thresholds have been laid by the Cabinet/Committee of the Cabinet’’.

A recent example of how these new guidelines have impacted the decision-making process is a Rs 597-crore proposal to set up the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM) that is now being cleared by the Information & Broadcasting ministry.

“A Cabinet note had been prepared for the setting up of NFHM which is aimed at preserving the country’s filmic legacy. But we were recently informed that since this project costs less than Rs 1,000 crore, it doesn’t require a Cabinet clearance,” a government source told The Indian Express.

The government has also decided that all schemes and projects which involve setting up of new companies, autonomous bodies, institutions/universities, and special purpose vehicles, etc, would be appraised by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) chaired by Secretary (Expenditure). This appraisal would be conducted irrespective of the outlay or the nature of the ministry/department, and all such cases would need to be approved at the level of the Cabinet or a Cabinet Committee.

The Finance Ministry has also come out with a list of dos and don’ts for ministries and departments involved in appraising and approving public-funded schemes and projects. It has asked ministries to ensure that proposals considered within the delegated powers “are subjected to rigorous examination in project design and delivery”, adding that “careful attention should be paid to recurring liabilities and fund availability after adjustment of the committed liabilities”.

“Ministries should avoid the tendency to operate multiple small schemes without focus on meaningful outcomes. While considering proposals for continuation of on-going schemes, a careful rationalisation must be done through merger and dropping.


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