Worried over high fiscal deficit, the Expenditure Department in Finance Ministry has started holding weekly review meetings to monitor expenditure and is also looking at the possibility of reducing Plan outlay.

“We are trying to reduce the number of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) by aligning them. Already a few ministries are doing that. The Expenditure Department is holding weekly review meetings ... so that optimum utilisation (of fund) is made,” a Finance Ministry official said.

In its bid to control expenditure, the Finance Ministry last month launched austerity drive and asked all ministries and departments to reduce non—Plan expenditure by 10 per cent.

As part of the austerity drive, the government had banned creation of new posts, holding of meetings in five—star hotels and imposed curbs on foreign travel by officials.

The Finance Ministry official said, “We have gone through B.K. Chaturvedi committee report and we are considering clubbing of many centrally sponsored schemes.”

The Planning Commission has been insisting on reduction of the number of CSS as it would help in containing expenditure.

The fiscal deficit during 2011—12 shot up to 5.7 per cent of the GDP from 4.6 per cent in the previous fiscal.

The Centre is aiming to bring it down to 5.1 per cent in the current fiscal. It is targeting to cut the subsidy bill to below 2 per cent of GDP this fiscal and 1.75 per cent in the subsequent years.

At present, the total number of CSS is 147 compared to 213 in 2003—04 and 207 in 2004—05, and the Chaturvedi Committee has asked the Centre to reduce the number to 59.

Schemes like MNREGA, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Indira Awaas Yojana, PMGSY, National Rural Health Mission and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission are CSS among others.

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