House panel pans MIB for funds under-use in plan schemes

NEW DELHI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) needs to strengthen its monitoring mechanism by way of periodic review and mid-term appraisal of all major Schemes and undertake necessary corrective measures for proper implementation of Schemes and full utilisation of funds made available to them.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology which also examines issues relating to Information and Broadcasting Ministry has made this comment while noting that the Ministry is hopeful that the link between spending and outcome will improve and the total expenditure would become more focused with the dispensing of the distinction of Plan and non-Plan allocation from 2017-18.

The Committee has taken note of the new initiatives taken for rational allocation of funds and trust that the strategic intervention would reverse the trend and help in prudent and optimal utilisation of funds in the current fiscal.

In its comments with regard to utilisation of the Twelfth Five Year Plan Funds, the Committee noted that the Ministry has on an average utilised 96 percent of Revised Estimates (RE) during the first four years of 12th Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2015-16).

The performance of the Ministry with regard to financial targets shows that during the entire Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17), the Ministry has been able to utilise Rs 34.8945 billion against the revised estimated allocation of Rs 37.78 billion.

As against the proposed outlay of Rs 217.31 billion, the erstwhile Planning Commission had approved Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) of Rs 75.83 billion for the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) for the Ministry.

Further, a provision of Rs 10 billion had been kept for Internal and Extra Budgetary Resources (IEBR) by Prasar Bharati for financing New Content Development Scheme of Prasar Bharati for the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17).

Thus, a total outlay of Rs 85.83 billion had been approved for funding the various Plan Schemes of the Ministry during the Twelfth Plan Period. In each of these years, the Budget allocation to the Ministry was substantially reduced at the RE stage.

This trend however changed during the year 2016-17 where the Budget allocation has actually increased from Rs.8 billion at budget estimate (BE) stage to Rs.8.6 billion at RE stage and the utilisation of funds was 80 percent as on 21 February 2017.

Overall, the Committee noted that despite the Ministry’s efforts to improve plan expenditure and optimise allocation in the Plan Schemes, there have been under utilisation of funds.

The reasons attributed for sub-optimal utilisation relate to finalisation of RE 2016-17 (Plan) in January 2017, long procurement process of Prasar Bharati for procurement of goods and services and delay in approval of the new Schemes under the three sectors.

Noting that the reasons are found to be repetitive and certainly give an impression that the Ministry has failed to bring in the desired administrative efficiency and fiscal planning over the years, the Committee expressed the hope that the procurement process of Prasar Bharati will be streamlined expeditiously.

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