The Telegraph
Friday , June 12 , 2015

Rakibul irked by funds cut

Guwahati, June 11: Assam cabinet minister Rakibul Hussain today hinted the state's agriculture sector and rural areas would be worst hit by the Centre's new funding patterns.

Hussain, who holds the agriculture, panchayat and rural development portfolios, today showed reporters letters sent by the Centre to Dispur about new fund-sharing patterns between the central and state governments for different schemes.

The letters revealed that the funding pattern is not 50:50 for all schemes as the state government keeps saying nor is it 90:10 as claimed by Union rural development and panchayati raj minister Birender Singh yesterday.

Singh, in a review meeting here yesterday, had said the 90:10 funding pattern would continue till a committee headed by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan submits a report to Niti Aayog.

The letters showed that Centre has stopped funding for schemes like Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) and Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA), changed the funding pattern to 50:50 for schemes like Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) from earlier 90:10. The funding for Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY) and National Food Security Mission (NFSM), which earlier received full central assistance, is now 50:50. The funding for MGNREGA will be 75:25 from the earlier 90:10. All these schemes are meant for helping farmers and underprivileged people.

"Central funds have been cut to schemes like RKVY at a time we succeeded in increasing production of paddy, pulses and potatoes. In the financial year of 2014-15, the Centre allotted Rs 483 crore for Assam, which was to be 100 per cent contribution. In 2015-16, the Centre has allotted the same amount but will provide only 50 per cent of it. The state government will have to bear the rest," Hussain said.

"It would be unjustified to compare states like Assam with bigger ones like Andhra Pradesh. We want the Centre to continue the earlier 90:10 fund-sharing pattern for different schemes. Even developed states are finding it difficult to share funds in the 50:50 ratio," Hussain said.

IAY is one of the most popular schemes among the rural poor as they get free houses. The allocation for the scheme in 2014-15 was Rs 1,373 crore, which has been reduced to Rs 864 crore.

Hussain said he had met chief minister Tarun Gogoi to discuss the fate of the schemes for which the Centre had stopped funding entirely. "At present we are not sure what will happen to these schemes. But despite our limited resources, we will try to continue the welfare schemes," he said.

Hussain said under the food security mission, the Centre has allotted Rs 153.21 crore but not released any amount so far.

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