The Union Health Ministry has shot off a letter to National Rural Health Mission officials of West Bengal asking for an explanation for the low utilization of funds under the Mission Flexible Pool of NRHM for development of healthcare infrastructure this year.
The letter mentions that under the Mission Flexible Pool,which aims at improving healthcare infrastructure,the Centre sanctioned Rs 305.29 crore for the period 2011-12. For civil construction,which is part of the Mission,the Centre sanctioned Rs 103.82 crore. However,the state was able to spend only Rs 14.23 crore. Thus,Bengal has an unspent balance of Rs 89.59 crore.
As 17 per cent of the total approved fund was unused,it was found that a substantial portion of infrastructure development could not be conducted within the stipulated period.
The letter mentions that for two consecutive years – from December 2010 to December 2011 – the fund utilisation under civil works construction has shown a decreasing trend. In 2011,only 13.71 per cent of the total fund was utilised.
In view of the decreasing trend of fund utilisation the Centre has asked the state government to set up a monitoring team for periodic review of physical and financial progress. It also recommended strengthening the state engineering cell. A detailed report of the plan of action must be prepared to improve the pace of utilization of funds for civil works and sent to the Union Health Ministry within the last week of April.
Because of the decreasing trend in utilizing funds under infrastructure development,this year no funds were disbursed for Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP),Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and routine immunisation under NRHM.
Senior health officials pointed out that West Bengal Medical Service Corporation – which was responsible for most of the construction works in the healthcare sector – had failed to provide pending utilisation certificates for 2008-09. As a result,all the construction works under NRHM were delayed Dilip Ghosh,mission director of NRHM,admitted that there had been low utilisation of funds under Mission Flexible Pool of NRHM. He said efforts were being made to provide the pending utilisation certificates of 2008-09 as quickly as possible so that they get the proposed funds under NRHM.