Business

Govt report card shows slow start to key projects

A large number of key proposals announced in the July 2014 Union Budget, the first after the National Democratic Alliance government took charge at the Centre, have seen delayed starts. While the concept notes for some were to be finalised, committees for a few others were constituted many months after the announcement. While draft guidelines for certain schemes are still being circulated among ministries, initial working group meetings have been held in the case of a few others, according to a government status report on projects announced in July 2014.

The ‘Smart Cities’ project is one that has faced many hurdles. In July last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced a medium- to long-term plan of setting up 100 smart cities, with an initial allocation of Rs 7,060 crore for 2014-15. But according to the implementation report, the concept note on the contours of the plan was revised on December 3, seven months after the project was announced. As of January 30 this year, too, the note wasn’t finalised. The urban development ministry is the nodal ministry for the project.

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, announced in July 2014, is about ensuring every household has access to sanitation by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The scheme, also under the urban development ministry, was launched on October 2 2014 and guidelines for this were issued on December 28.

Another scheme under the urban development ministry pertains to metro rail projects in Lucknow and Ahmedabad. This had an initial corpus of Rs 100 crore for 2014-15. According to the implementation status for this, “an advisory has been issued to all state governments on August 28, 2014, with a request to explore the possibility of a PPP (public-private partnership) model for the metro project”. Subsequent developments in this regard aren’t mentioned.

The fact that Shankar Agarwal was shifted from the post of secretary in the urban development ministry to the labour ministry earlier this year might have resulted from the slow progress in the case of some of the government’s flagship schemes, sources said. Madhusudan Prasad had succeeded Agarwal at the urban development ministry.

On using unclaimed amounts with the Public Provident Fund (PPF), post offices, etc, Jaitley had, in July, said a committee would be set up on these issues, adding it would give a report “not later than December 2014”. The implementation status showed as of January-end, the committee held two meetings, the last on December 29, 2014.

The status report was silent on submission of the report. The project is under the Department of Economic Affairs.

For food security, Jaitley had proposed to restructure Food Corporation of India (FCI) and reduce transportation and distribution losses. Among other things, the status report says the government is implementing an end-to-end computerisation scheme, while best practices are being shared through advisories, guidelines and conferences.

On “expeditious completion” of the Amritsar-Kolkata industrial corridor announced last year under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), a consultant was yet to be appointed for conducting a feasibility study, the status report said.

Even as Jaitley had, in July, expressed the need to examine the financial architecture of the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, asking a special committee to give “concrete suggestions in three months”, the panel is yet to give a report, the government has confirmed.

PROMISE VS DELIVERY

  • 170 announcements in last Budget: 90 are work in progress, 54 completed, 26 partially completed
     
  • Slow take-off: Smart cities, Swachh Bharat, use of unclaimed amounts in PPF, Amritsar-Kolkata industrial master planning, assessment of MSME financial structure projects
     
  • Action completed: Advance tax ruling, transfer pricing, raising of FDI cap in defence, relaxation of FDI conditions linked to smart cities, bank capitalisation and e-visa