In March 2018, the Ministry got a slap from the Parliamentary panel standing committee on IT for underutilisation of funds to the central sector scheme during the 12th Five Year Plan. The Panel said it indicated the failure of the ministry in timely execution of their various schemes and projects and inaccurate estimation of fund requirement.
This is not the first time that the Ministry underutilised the fund. The committee also observed the disturbing trend of less utilisation of the allocated funds by the ministry year after year.
The Standing Committee on Information Technology (2017-18), in its report Demand for Grants (2018-19) of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, observed that the total budgetary allocations of the ministry for 2018-19 was to the tune of ` 4,088.98 crore. Out of the total allocation, the central sector schemes accounts for ` 735.05 crore and establishment expenditure of the centre and other central expenditure accounts for ` 3,353.93 crore.
The panel said though the allocation of funds for the year 2018-19 was 13.42 per cent higher than the revised estimate (RE) of ` 3,605.11 crore for the year 2017-18, it was still 7.25 per cent less than the BE of ` 4,409 crore for 2017-18.
With reference to the expenditure made on central sector schemes during the 12th Five Year Plan period, the committee observed that there is a consistent pattern of expenditure much lower than the allocations made at BE stage. This, the panel said, was evident from the fact that against the BE of ` 905 crore each in 2012-13 and 2013-14, the amount spent was ` 612.10 crore and ` 715.22 crore respectively.
Similarly, the panel said, against the BE of ` 1,005 crore, ` 914.53 crore and ` 800 crore for the year 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, the amount actually spent was ` 740.78 crore , ` 734.50 crore and ` 802.69 crore respectively.
What the panel appreciated?
The Parliamentary Panel appreciated of the model of Bureau of Outreach Communication (BOC), the entity formed by merging of Field Publicity (DFP), Song and Drama Division (S&DD) and Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP).
The Panel also appreciated the ministry's communication approach of reaching out to the people at the last mile and the ministry's push towards attaining a deemed university status for the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the source added.
The Parliamentary Committee also strongly recommended following measures:
- I&B Ministry should fine tune their budgetary exercise so that estimated requirements of funds at BE stage are close to accurate in future.
- The ministry should make advance planning so that the funds of ` 735.05 crore allocated for central sector schemes for the financial year 2018-19 are optimally utilised.
- As Prasar Bharati has not been able to meet the target set by hem in respect of their revenue earnings throughout the 12th Plan period, it should also strive hard to reverse the declining trend in its commercial revenue without compromising on the quality of programmes.
The Way forward:
As the Committee has consistently been saying that under spending results in blocking of the national resources, the I&B Ministry should identify the grey areas, make the implementation of its schemes more effective and step up the monitoring mechanism so as to ensure optimum utilisation of funds.The Ministry should make serious efforts to identify the weakness in the system and streamline the planning process so as to ensure effective utilization of Plan outlay.