The Standing Committee on Information Technology, chaired by BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur, has expressed displeasure over cut in fund allocation to the Department of Posts and recommended raising the matter with the finance ministry.
"The Committee is not happy to note the downsizing of the proposed allocation for various schemes of the Department of Posts," the report of the panel tabled in Parliament today said.
During 2017-18, the Department had proposed an allocation of Rs 3,707.711 crore for its four central sector schemes-- Postal Operations, Human Resource Management, Estates Management and India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) but the same had been reduced to Rs 1,050 crore.
Also, during 2018-19, against the proposed allocations for various schemes to the tune of Rs 2350.30 crore, Rs 92.41 crore, Rs 489.50 crore and Rs 585.00 crore, respectively, the Department has been allocated funds to the tune of Rs 715.00 crore, Rs 60 crore, Rs 85 crore and Rs 300 crore, respectively.
The panel said due to reduced allocation of funds, mail operations including establishment of e-commerce/parcel booking/international business centres, IT induction and modernisation projects, business promotion and marketing research and product development at the DoP will suffer.
"The Committee is of the view that the reduced outlays will adversely affect the progress and growth of various schemes/sub-schemes undertaken by the Department. They, therefore, strongly recommend that the allocations be stepped up suitably at the RE (revised estimate) stage and if necessary matter may be taken up at an appropriate level with the Ministry of Finance," the report said.
The panel said the plan schemes should have been approved well in advance to enable the DoP to proceed with the execution of the schemes.
"The resultant downsizing of the plan outlays puts the plan priorities of the Department out of gear which leads to non-achievement of the targets and hence this must be avoided," the report said.
The panel expressed concern over increase in the deficit of the Department to Rs 11,969.95 crore during 2016-17 as compared to Rs 6,007.18 crore in 2015-16.
"With this trend of increasing deficit, the Committee apprehend further increase in deficit during 2018-19," the report said.
The DoP has explained the panel that it is not possible to cut down the operational expenses of the Department due to the increasing costs on one hand and obligation to provide Universal Postal Services to the citizens at affordable costs throughout the country on the other hand.
"In view of the foregoing, the Committee are of the opinion that higher revenue realisation is the ultimate solution to reduce the revenue deficit in the coming years," the report said.