A Parliamentary panel lashed out at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for “underutilisation of funds” and noted that by February 20, the ministry “was able to spend only 61.58 per cent of the allocation granted under the capital component in revised estimates of budget 2017-18.”
In its 209th report on demands for grants 2018-19, tabled before Parliament, the Standing Committee headed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram stated: “The panel fails to understand the reasons for this poor capital expenditure and wonders as to how the ministry would be able to spend more than 38 per cent of the allocation with just 40 days remaining in the current financial year.”
“The Home Secretary was asked to explain the reasons for reduction of the funds from Rs 5,100 crore in revised estimates (RE) 2017-18 to Rs 4,793.36 crore in budget estimates (BE) 2018-19… Home secretary responded that due to the restructuring of the umbrella scheme ‘Modernization of Police Forces’ (MPF), some sub-schemes components amounting to Rs 509.50 crore were shifted to another grant leading to reduction of allocation,” the report noted.
However, the committee “fears that a large sum of capital funds may have to be surrendered” by the MHA and it “may subject them to further cuts”. “The Committee expresses its displeasure at the poor capital expenditure by the home ministry and is of the view that year after year such sub-optimal utilization of funds is simply inexcusable.”
It further recommended in its report that the MHA should try “to remove all operational bottlenecks and undertake corrective measures to address the issues underlying the continued poor capital expenditure pattern.”
On the delay in operationalisation of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), the committee expressed its dismay and observed “disturbing trend of poor expenditure and reduction in allocation at revised estimates stage continues in 2017-18 as well”. “The allocation of Rs 45.57 crore granted in 2017-18 was substantially cut down to Rs 22.77 crore during the revised estimates in 2017-18,” it noted.
The panel said it is not convinced by the explanation furnished by the Home Ministry that funds could not be spent due to non-availability of appropriately qualified professionals for various posts in the organisation and due to reduced requirements under the head ‘Machinery and Equipment’.