Concerned over the poor utilisation of funds by various ministries, the Union Ministry of Finance is mulling stricter measures to ensure better use of funds. These include closer scrutiny of funds spent by ministries in each of their departments, and making the concerned officials accountable.
“The finance ministry has taken note of the fact that ministries are not using funds allocated to them. Several ministries have not spent even one-third of their funds, which has to change,” a senior finance ministry official told TMS.
The matter was discussed during pre-Budget consultations, and while going through ‘Demands for Grants’, the form in which estimates of expenditure are submitted. Ministries of information and broadcasting, agriculture, women and child development, minority affairs, and labour and development were among those flagged for under-utilisation of funds during these pre-Budget meetings.
For instance, the information and broadcasting ministry were allocated Rs 900 crore in the Budget, out of which the utilisation of funds was far below the targets. Prasar Bharati could only spend Rs 27 crore (5.6 per cent) of the allocated Rs 473 crore till July 2019; the film sector spent Rs 17 crore of the Rs 156 crore budget. These were already pointed out by a parliamentary panel report tabled during the Winter session.
Similarly, of the total Rs 75,000 crore allocated under the PM-KISAN Yojana for the financial year 2019-20, only Rs 27,937.26 crore has been spent until the end of October. Sources said it is highly unlikely that the agriculture ministry would spend the amount by the end of the year.
The 91 per cent unspent Nirbhaya Fund, which had a total allocation of Rs 1,672 crore, has already caused a major embarrassment for the ruling government, in the wake of recent incidents of crime against women in the country.
The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana was also flagged for continuous under-utilisation of funds, despite being one of the flagship schemes of the government.“It can be seen that for three consecutive years, the ministry could neither fix realistic budget estimate nor could it fully utilise the revised estimate funds,” pointed out a report of the standing committee on labour, which was tabled in the parliament earlier this month.
Even expenditure of the Ministry of Civil Aviation was slow, pegged at only 25 per cent of the total allocation until end of September this year.
“The matter was discussed at length. While the finance ministry has discussed transferring the unspent funds to other key ministries, it has also asked for detailed department-wise spending patterns from the concerned ministries. The officials in charge need to be made accountable,” the finance ministry official added.
Funds under flagship scheme under-utilised
Despite being one of the flagship schemes of the government, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana was also flagged for continuous under-utilisation of funds.