Tamil Nadu government on Monday charged the Planning Commission with “overstepping” its advisory and allocational mandate and adopting “executive role” by issuing directives on a number of issues related to the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme.
In her address at a meeting with the Plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia at Delhi, she said while her government was not opposed to the scheme per se, the objections were based on “sound grounds.”
Firstly, her government was “strongly opposed” to any move to monetise and transfer in cash the subsidy element of foodgrains and kerosene under the Public Distribution System and supply of fertilisers and other inputs to farmers.
Not just the quantum of subsidy but the access to and timely availability of commodities were the main concerns, she said, adding food and energy security cannot be compromised.
Her government was also opposed to the “executive overreach” by the Centre and the attempt to “insidiously bypass state governments” through the scheme, she said in her address released by the state government in Chennai.
“The Union Planning Commission has issued a series of instructions and guidelines on a number of conceptual and operational issues relating to Direct Benefit Transfer with virtually no consultation with state governments. Clearly, the Union Planning Commission is overstepping its advisory and allocational mandate and taking on an executive role,” she said.
State governments were expected to place their field machinery at the disposal of the Government of India and were reduced to becoming mere bystanders, she said, adding that the entire approach “divorces” authority from responsibility and accountability and was violative of the spirit of federalism and democratic decentralisation.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said there were many schemes where costs were being shared by the Centre and state government as some of the Central schemes were “belated attempts to replicate state schemes.”
For instance, the Indira Gandhi Matritva Suraksha Yojana “draws inspiration” from Tamil Nadu’s Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy Scheme, under which government provides a much higher benefit of Rs 12,000 and a wider coverage, she said.
In cases where Centre-state demarcation was not possible, direct release by the Government of India will lead to “duplication of efforts and waste of resources”, she said, adding it would be administratively prudent to leave the implementation of schemes to states as was being done now and not try to centralise it to the ministries in New Delhi.
The Chief Minister suggested an “alternative win-win proposal” on the scheme, saying the Centre should route its funds through the state Government, which she said was already progressively switching over to the bank mode of disbursement for all beneficiary oriented schemes.
“The Government of India can monitor implementation more rigorously because the data will be seamlessly available for scrutiny. This would not only make the roll out of Direct Benefit Transfer faster, but also enable inclusion of large schemes like disbursement of Social Security Pensions,” she said, adding the Centre should treat states as equal partners in the process of inclusive growth and development.