IT comm pulls up MIB, Prasar Bharati over meagre utilisation of funds

MUMBAI: The Lok Sabha Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by Dr. Shashi Tharoor has presented the Second Report of the Committee on ‘Demands for Grants (2019-20)’ relating to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

The committee has expressed their concern over the meagre utilisation of funds by the MIB during 2019-20 (up to July 2019). The utilisation of funds in respect of Prasar Bharati and Film Sector is far below the targets.

Out of an allocation of Rs. 473 crore, Prasar Bharati could spend Rs. 26.83 crore (5.6%) only. In the case of Film Sector, out of an allocation of Rs. 156 crore, only Rs. 16.79 crore (10.17%) was spent.

The committee has cautioned the Ministry/Prasar Bharti to look into the reasons for the shortfall more meticulously and advised them to take corrective measures urgently.

The committee has expressed its displeasure over the lagging performance of Prasar Bharati during 2017-18 and 2018-19. During 2017-18, against Budget Estimate (BE) and Revised Estimate (RE) of Rs. 430 crore and Rs. 282 crore, Prasar Bharati had utilised Rs. 201.57 crore (71.47%) only.

During 2018-19, against RE of Rs. 326.74 crore, Prasar Bharati had utilised Rs. 280.70 crore (85.90 %). The committee has found the reasons put forth for poor performance as inconvincible. The committee has recommended to the ministry to pay serious attention to the implementation of their schemes/programmes.

The committee has also been disappointed to note that National Centre for Excellence for Animation, Visual effects, Gaming and Comics (NCoE), a 12th plan project which got the administrative approval with a total outlay of Rs. 167.70 crore for implementation in a four year period from 2016-17 to 2019-20 has been delayed.

Even three years later, the ministry is in the process of identifying the operating and the academic partner for the Centre. During, 2016-17 and 2018-19, only Rs. 0.39 crore and Rs. 1.63 crore, resp. were spent and during 2017-18, nothing was spent on the project.

The committee is hopeful that the ministry would soon finalise the operating and academic partners for the project and the funds of Rs. 20.50 crore earmarked during 2018-19 for the NCoE project would be optimally utilised. The committee has been concerned to note that no dedicated officer has been appointed for the project and recommended to the Ministry to take urgent immediate action in this regard.

The committee has expressed their unhappiness over under-utilisation of funds for Central Sector Schemes in NER. During 2017-18 and 2018-19, out of the allocation of Rs. 60.63 crore and Rs. 122.21 crore, resp., the actual expenditure remained Rs. 52.02 crore(85.79%) and Rs. 65.24 crore(53.38%), respectively.

The committee has also expressed its desire that the Ministry/Prasar Bharati will take effective measures to overcome the difficulties being faced in the implementation of their schemes in NER and ensure that Rs. 115 crore allocated under Prasar Bharati and Rs. 47.65 crore under MIB for the purpose during 2019-20 is optimally utilised.