Modi sits in the NITIAayog meeting in New Delhi
INDIAN Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday (February 8) ordered a review of dozens of national welfare schemes in the first meeting of a new economic planning body.
Modi, who stormed to power at general elections in May, is targeting the schemes designed to help tens of millions of India’s poor that were a hallmark of the previous Congress party’s decade in power.
At the meeting, Modi asked chief ministers of India’s states to come up with suggestions for the future of the schemes that opponents say are inefficient, prone to corruption and drain public finances.
The group of ministers will study the 66 schemes ‘and recommend which to continue, which to transfer to states, and which to cut down,’ the government said in a statement.
They include guaranteed employment and access to health schemes for tens of millions of rural poor, along with a programme to provide free lunches to school children. It is unclear whether a multi-billion-dollar food welfare programme, offering subsidised grains to nearly 70 per cent of the population, is included in the review.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said new groups would ‘look into skill development’ and enhance a clean-up India campaign, along with the ‘rationalisation of federal schemes’.
‘We discussed the economic direction the country must get,’ Jaitley also told reporters after the meeting.
Two other ‘taskforces’ would be formed to better focus on alleviating poverty and improving farm productivity, the government said.
The new economic body replaces India’s Soviet-style Planning Commission, which was axed by Modi last year.