A parliamentary panel today rapped the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for underutilisation of funds to the central sector scheme during the 12th Five Year Plan and said it indicated the failure of the ministry in timely execution of their various schemes and projects and inaccurate estimation of fund requirement. 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 Rs 4,088.98 crore. Out of the total allocation, the central sector schemes accounts for Rs 735.05 crore and establishment expenditure of the centre and other central expenditure accounts for Rs 3,353.93 crore, it said. 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 Rs 3,605.11 crore for the year 2017-18, it was still 7.25 per cent less than the BE of Rs 4,409 crore for 2017-18. The committee also observe the disturbing trend of less utilisation of the allocated funds by the ministry year after year, it said. With reference to the expenditure made on central sector schemes during the 12th Five Year Plan period, the committee observe that there is a consistent pattern of expenditure much lower than the allocations made at BE stage, it said. This, the panel said, was evident from the fact that against the BE of Rs 905 crore each in 2012-13 and 2013-14, the amount spent was Rs 612.10 crore and Rs 715.22 crore respectively. Similarly, it said, against the BE of Rs 1,005 crore, Rs 914.53 crore and Rs 800 crore for the year 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, the amount actually spent was Rs 740.78 crore , Rs 734.50 crore and Rs 802.69 crore respectively. Thus, the panel said, the total expenditure of Rs 3,605.33 crore on the central sector schemes during 12th plan period (2012-13 to 2016-17 ) has been much less than the allocation of funds of Rs 4,529.53 crore at BE stage. The underutilisation of the allocations is a serious reflection on the functioning of the ministry which apparently indicate not only failure of the ministry in timely execution of their various schemes and projects but also on the entire budgetary exercise undertaken by them as the ministry could not make accurate estimation of their requirements even at the RE stage also, it said. The committee also strongly recommended that the ministry fine tune their budgetary exercise so that estimated requirements of funds at BE stage are close to accurate in future. The committee would also like to emphasise that the ministry should make advance planning so that the funds of Rs 735.05 crore allocated for central sector schemes for the financial year 2018-19 are optimally utilised, it said. The committee also observed that the Prasar Bharti has not been able to meet the target set by them in respect of their revenue earnings through out the 12th Plan period. The committee would like Prasar Bharti to strive hard to reverse the declining trend in its commercial revenue without compromising on the quality of programmes, the panel said. Meanwhile, a source said in the consultative committee meeting of the Information and Broadcasting ministry held today, the members were very appreciative 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). They 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.
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