‘Under-utilisation of PM-Poshan, SSA funds unacceptable’: Parliamentary Panel

Only 58% funds allocated to the schemes were spent by January 31, 2022. The government spent just 56% of outlay on school education scheme SSA.

House panel stated that 99.87% of advertisements and publicity funds under PM Poshan despite no activities carried out due to pandemic. (Picture Shutterstock)House panel stated that 99.87% of advertisements and publicity funds under PM Poshan despite no activities carried out due to pandemic. (Picture Shutterstock)

R. Radhika | March 17, 2022 | 03:42 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Once again, the government has grossly under-utilised funds allocated to major centrally-sponsored schemes like Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and PM-Poshan, a parliamentary standing committee noted.

The committee, in its report tabled on Wednesday, noted that the centre has failed to spend money in a “progressive manner” on Central Sector Schemes (CSeS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) that form the “backbone of education” in India.

By January 31, 2022, Rs 23,572 crore was spent against a total amount of Rs 40,576.50 crore in Revised Estimates under CSS. Meanwhile, only Rs 1.46 crore was spent as against an allocation of Rs 286.20 crore under the CSeS in the same duration.

The committee further noted that under-utilisation of funds for two flagship schemes –SSA and PM Poshan–which account for 75 percent of the total scheme budget has been “continuing”.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, chaired by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, has directed the Centre to identify the factors behind the underutilisation.

Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan

In the Revised Estimates 2021-22, the SSA scheme was allotted Rs 30,000 crore, however, the actual expenditure as of the last day of January this year is Rs 16,821.70 crore, the committee report stated.

Also Read| Over 3,500 crore SSA funds were unspent during 2019-20: Education Ministry

An analysis done by the Centre for Policy Research showed that the union government had released only 38 percent of the scheme funds to states till October 2021. The government only released Rs 11,945 crore of the total Rs 31,050 crores allocated for the scheme. SSA is the largest school education programme in the country that is funded by the centre and states in a 60:40 ratio.

The actual expenditure on SSA in 2020-21 was Rs 27,834.57 crore. In Budget 2021, more than Rs 8,000 crore was cut from SSA funds. The budget allocation for school education also saw a cut of close to Rs 5,000 crore. In the 2022-23 Budget, the funds rose to Rs 37,383.36 crore–an increase of 25 percent from 2021-22 Revised Estimates. The scheme was revamped as SSA 2.0 to be extended till March, 2026 with a budget of Rs 3 lakh crore over the next five years.

sarva shiksha abhiyan vacancy, sarva shiksha abhiyan recruitment 2022, sarva shiksha abhiyan 2021, school budget, pm poshan, modi governmentThe Parliamentary Panel noted that under-utilisation for two flagship schemes--SSA and PM Poshan--has been continuing (Picture: Shutterstock)

PM Poshan: Only 57% spent

Till January 31, the committee report said, the centre managed to spend only 57 percent of its budget on PM Poshan. According to its observations, Rs 6,660 crore were utilised as against Rs 11,500 crore allocation. It further observed that not much of the underutilisation of funds would have been covered in the remaining two months.

Also Read| Centre spent 79% funds for Beti Bachao Beti Padhao on advertising: Parliamentary Panel

It also pointed out that the department was able to spend 99.87% of funds meant for advertisements and publicity, even though no such activities were carried out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PM-Poshan scheme, earlier known as mid-day meal scheme, provides cooked meals to school students upto Class 8. Calling this underutilisation “unacceptable” the committee called for devising “alternative strategies and mechanism” to remedy the situation.

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