New Delhi:The union government on Tuesday upwardly revised the financial limits of its ministries and departments, empowering ministers to clear projects worth up to Rs 500 crore -- up from the earlier Rs 150 crore. "The financial power of the minister-in-charge for approval of non-plan schemes/projects has been enhanced and schemes/project costing less than Rs 500 crore can now be approved at his/her level," a Finance Ministry statement said here. "Earlier, the minister could approve projects costing less than Rs 150 crore. The Finance Minister shall be the competent financial authority for approving scheme/projects with financial implications of Rs 500 crore and above, but up to Rs 1,000 crore. "The proposal with financial limits of Rs 1,000 crore and above shall require the approval of the Cabinet/Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs," it said. Non-plan projects of less than Rs 300 crore can now be appraised by the ministry or the standing finance committee of the ministry concerned, the statement said. "As per the revised delegation, the Committee on Non-Plan Expenditure (CNE), which serves as an appraisal forum for all non-plan proposals of the central ministries or departments, will now appraise proposals involving expenditure of Rs 300 crore and above from the earlier limit of Rs 75 crore," it said. Financial limits regarding appraisal and approval of increase in cost estimates have also been revised, the Finance Ministry said. "Increase in cost up to 20 per cent of the firmed up cost estimates can now be appraised by the financial adviser and approved by secretary of the administrative department, if the absolute cost escalation is up to Rs 75 crore, and by the minister-in-charge if absolute cost escalation is above this amount," the Finance Ministry said. The government said the financial limits for approval of plan and non-plan projects of its ministries and departments have been brought almost at par with this move, aimed at expediting the appraisal and approval process.