Parliamentary panel pulls up planning ministry for not using funds fully

New Delhi: Flowers bloom at Parliament during the ongoing Budget Session, in New Delhi, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (PTI Photo/Kamal Kishore)

A parliamentary panel has pulled up the Ministry of Planning for under-utilisation of funds in important areas and also flagged the issue of vacant positions in government think-tank Niti Aayog.

The Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Jayant Sinha, in a report noted that a scrutiny of the budget of the Ministry of Planning reveals under-utilisation of funds in important areas.

The budget estimates (BE) for the ministry for the year 2020-21 stand at Rs 650 crore.

According to the report, under the head Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), out of allocated funds of Rs 11 crore for 2019-20, only Rs 6.18 crore was utilised till December 2019, which is 56.18 per cent of the total allocation.

Similarly, for Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), out of the allocated funds of Rs 120 crore, only Rs 61 crore was utilised, which is 50.83 per cent of allocation.

The committee said it is constrained to note that even after four years of the constitution of DMEO, which comes under the Niti Aayog, more than 100 positions are vacant out of the sanctioned strength of 157.

Noting that a large number of private professionals and consultant firms are being engaged by the ministry, especially for evaluation of schemes, the report said "the Committee expect that the qualifications are well laid down and recruitment are done in a transparent manner and open tendering process be followed for engaging the consultant firms."

Appreciating Niti Aayog for bringing out SDG India Index 2019 covering all SDGs, the panel said it would like to recommend the ministry to consider options of bringing out a similar index taking districts as the base.

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