Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) are special purpose grants (or loans) extended by the Central Government to States to encourage and motivate State governments to plan and implement programmes that help attain national goals and objectives.
Examples of national goals and objectives include extending clean drinking water and sanitation to every habitation, eradicating polio and tuberculosis, making primary education universal for every female and male child, and so on.
Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) are again divided into Core of the Core Schemes and Core Schemes.
How are Centrally Sponsored Schemes different from Central Sector Schemes?
Centrally Sponsored Schemes are different from Central Sector Schemes in the sense that Central Sector Schemes are implemented by Center directly while Centrally Sponsored Schemes are implemented by states.
CSS are extended by the Union Government to States under Article 282 of the Constitution. The mainly cover items listed in states list.
Centrally Sponsored Schemes vs Central Assistance
Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) now form a major part of the Central Assistance(CA) given by the centre to states to implement the state plans. For ease of understanding, CSS may now be treated synonymously to CA. There were other types of Central Assistance before 2015-16, but almost all of them are discontinued as states got higher revenue after the 14th Finance Commission recommendations (higher devolution of taxes to states).
Restructuring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes – Chaturvedi Committee Recommendations (2014)
In 2014, the UPA-2 government approved Planning Commission’s proposal to merge the 147 Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and bring it down to 66 across various sectors for effective implementation and monitoring of the 12th Five Year Plan. The merger proposal was in line with the recommendations of the Chaturvedi committee, which had suggested bringing down CSS to avoid overlap.
CSS, Flagship Schemes and ACA: CSSs are backed by Central government grant money. They have been implemented by State governments over at least ten Five Year Plans. Out of the Centrally sponsored schemes, Government gives priority to certain special schemes to achieve social objectives. These schemes are called Flagship schemes. Schemes covered under additional central assistance are known as ACA. Conceptually both CSS and Additional Central Assistance (ACA) Schemes have been passed by the Central Government to the State governments. The difference between the two has arisen because of the historical evolution and the way these are being budgeted and controlled and release of funds takes place. In case of CSS, the budgets are allocated under ministries concerned themselves and the entire process of release is also done by them.