‘Connect to Andhra’ is a rebranded version of the Smart Andhra Pradesh Foundation, which will pool funds and monitor their utilisation for various government schemes.

Andhra government sets up non-profit to pool CSR funds for Navaratnalu
news Governance Wednesday, January 01, 2020 - 17:26

The Andhra Pradesh government has constituted a non-profit society named ‘Connect to Andhra’ to manage Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the Navaratnalu schemes, and the education and health sectors. The society will operate as a wing of the Planning Department, subsuming the Smart Andhra Pradesh Foundation established by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government. 

According to a government order issued on Tuesday, the Joint Secretary or Special Secretary of the Planning Department will be appointed as the CEO of ‘Connect to Andhra.’ The role of the non-profit will revolve around mobilising CSR funds from various industries and companies in the state, and monitoring their utilisation for various development and welfare works, including Navaratnalu, the nine promises made by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy during his election campaign. These include an increase in monthly old-age pensions to Rs 3,000 per head, besides farmer welfare schemes like Rythu Bharosa and the healthcare scheme Aarogyasri. According to economic experts, the Navaratnalu may cost anywhere close to Rs 60,000 crore. 

Read: Navaratnalu scheme: Can AP’s fragile economy bear the burden of Jagan’s promises?

Apart from Navaratnalu, the government has also mooted the ‘Nadu-nedu’ (then and now) scheme to revamp infrastructure in schools and hospitals across the state. Jagan had announced that nearly Rs 12,000 crore would be spent under Nadu-nedu in the education sector alone to develop infrastructure and facilities in around 45,000 government schools.  

However, with the state facing a serious shortage of funds, the government has been looking for various avenues of funding for its ambitious welfare schemes. In October, the cabinet approved the Build AP scheme, under which unused government land and building will be sold to mobilise funds for government programmes and infrastructure development. Recently, the state government signed MoUs with five private firms including a few pharmaceutical companies for the development of schools in different districts. 

‘Connect to Andhra' will also raise funds from individual donors apart from CSR. Funds will be used under three different heads. According to the order, there will be a ‘pool fund’ for the flagship programs under Navaratnalu. Contributions can also be made for specific projects related to Navaratnalu to be executed by government agencies or by the donors themselves through CSR foundations or NGOs. 

The society will subsume the Smart Andhra Pradesh Foundation established by the former TDP government in 2016 along similar lines, rebranding itself to align with Navaratnalu. An executive committee headed by the CM, and including the Finance Minister and Chief Secretary will formulate the policies, while district-level committees headed by District Collectors will be responsible for reviewing and monitoring of the usage of funds. 

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