Andhra government to raise Rs 1,000 crore through contributions under 'Connect-to-Andhra'

Andhra government to raise Rs 1,000 crore through contributions under Connect-to-Andhra

Alternatively, the government is also looking at the option of re-naming the Smart AP Foundation as 'Connect-to-Andhra.'

Amaravati: The Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh is targeting to raise at least Rs 1,000 crore through contributions from different sources in the ongoing financial year under a new initiative called 'Connect-to-Andhra.'

The funds thus obtained will be utilised on the government's flagship 'Navaratnalu' programme, under which cash will be doled out through various schemes to different sections of people every year.

The government is exploring the option of setting up a 'Section 8 Company', under the Companies Act, 2013, with the name 'Connect-to-Andhra' for resource mobilisation, according to the Concept Note.

A Section 8 Company is intended for promotion of commerce, art, science, sports, education, research, social welfare, religion, charity, protection of environment or any such other objective. All projects hitherto taken up under Smart Andhra Pradesh Foundation, launched by the previous Telugu Desam Party government, along with the resources will be merged with the proposed company.

Alternatively, the government is also looking at the option of re-naming the Smart AP Foundation as 'Connect-to-Andhra.' A Social Responsibility Wing, headed by an Indian Revenue Service officer, has been created in the state Planning Department as the nodal agency to mobilise funds for the government's flagship welfare programmes.

A staggering sum of over Rs 30,000 crore is required annually to implement the numerous welfare schemes like Rythu Bharosa (support to farmers), Amma Vodi (dole to mothers for sending their kids to school), Vahana Mitra (annual maintenance grant to auto and cab drivers), social security pensions, annual monetary grant for junior lawyers, fee reimbursement for students, housing for the poor, etc.

While some of these schemes are dovetailed with Central government programmes to lessen the financial burden, some are unique that require full funding from the state coffers, official sources said.

With the government unable to make its ends meet, and not a penny available for even basic infrastructure development, seeking public contributions was the only plausible option considered for carrying the welfare agenda forward, the sources added.

"My government is committed in its efforts to bring upward mobility in the lives of marginalised population. Our flagship schemes Navaratnalu cater to universal healthcare, access to education, housing, social security for the deserved," Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said in a message on the launch of Connect-to-Andhra (CTA).

The Chief Minister is chairman of the apex advisory board of CTA, which will be implemented on a mission mode. In 2018-19 financial year, various companies and organisations spent Rs 62.59 crore on various projects under Corporate Social Responsibility. The government received another Rs 13.3 crore for implementation of CSR schemes.

Besides CSR grants from business houses, the government is now targeting to secure "philanthropic funds" from "high net-worth individuals" like industrialists, public representatives and film stars and also "social impact investments" from organisations like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and also non-governmental organisations. Donations will also be sought from non-resident Telugus (those living abroad) and other individuals for Connect-to-Andhra.

This year, the government has already identified 'contributors' for the new Mission and is targeting to raise Rs 1,000 crore through them. The CTA Mission has identified several projects related to improving infrastructure in schools, polytechnics, Industrial Training Institutes, setting up of primary processing and milk collection centres, improving urban green spaces and plantation along important roads and rail tracks, restoring open forests, agro-forestry, upgrading primary and community health centres and affordable housing for the poor.

On November 14, the government is launching 'Nadu-Nedu,' a programme for improving infrastructure in schools, the first phase of which will cost Rs 1,500 crore.

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