COVID-19 pandemic: Centre releases Rs 8923.8 cr to Panchayats in 25 states

New Delhi, May 9 (FN Bureau) The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, has released an amount of Rs 8,923.8 crore to 25 states for providing grants to the Rural Local Bodies (RLBs) in advance, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants are meant for all the three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions – village, block, and district, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement here on Sunday.

The amount released on Saturday is the first installment of the ‘Untied Grants’ for the year 2021-22. It may be utilized by the RLBs, among other things, for various prevention and mitigation measures needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, it will augment resources to the three tiers of Panchayats for fighting the contagion. As per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission, the 1st instalment of untied grants was to be released to the states in June. However, in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation and at the recommendation of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, the Ministry of Finance has decided to release the grant in advance of the normal schedule, the statement said.

Moreover, the 15th Finance Commission had imposed certain conditions for the release of untied grants. The conditions include online availability of accounts of a certain percentage of Rural Local Bodies in the public domain. But taking into consideration the prevailing circumstances, this condition has been waived for release of the first installment of untied grants.