Union Budget 2023: 52% PM POSHAN funds released by December; allocations ‘stagnant’

Education Budget: Accountability Initiative’s budget brief on mid-day meal scheme says cooking costs should have risen by 23.7%, not 9.6%.

The release of funds by the central government to states under the PM POSHAN scheme has been slow. (Representative Image: Shutterstock)The release of funds by the central government to states under the PM POSHAN scheme has been slow. (Representative Image: Shutterstock)

Sanjay | January 31, 2023 | 05:05 PM IST

NEW DELHI: By November 30, the union government had released just 52% of the total funds earmarked for PM POSHAN in FY 2022-23, an analysis by the Delhi-based think-tank, Centre for Policy Research’s Accountability Initiative shows.

The government had released just Rs 5,363.28 crore of the Rs 10,314 crore allocated to the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme (PM POSHAN). The crucial mid-day meal scheme was subsumed within PM POSHAN in 2021.

The scheme’s reliance on the education cess has also increased sharply. The Accountability Initiative analysis shows that as much as 98% of the funding for the mid-day meal programme under PM POSHAN came from the education cess in 2022-23.

PM POSHAN is the education ministry’s second largest scheme, after Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, accounting for 10% of of the total Rs 1,04,277 allocation to the ministry of education (MoE) in 2022-23. Both are implemented by the MoE's department of school education and literacy.

Union Education Budget: Funds declined

PM POSHAN, originally known as the mid-day meal scheme, received the same outlay in 2022-23 as the previous financial year’s revised estimates. However, it was 11% lower than the budget estimate. In December 2022, another Rs 80 crore was added in the supplementary budget, revising the allocation to Rs 10,314 crore.

Mid-Day Meal Programme Budgets

Head

2020-21 Actuals (in Rs crore)

2021-22 BE (in Rs crore)

2021-22 RE (in Rs crore)

2022-23 BE (in Rs crore)

% change RE (2021-22) to BE (2022-23)

PM POSHAN

12,878

11,500

10,234

10,234

0

Total DoSEL budget

51,842

54,874

51,970

63,449

22


Despite the additional 22.59 lakh students under Bal Vatikas, the allocations for PM POSHAN have “remained relatively stagnant over the last five years and have in fact declined in the latest budget”, says the brief.

If inflation is considered, “PM POSHAN allocations in FY 2022-23 were 20% lower in real terms than the allocations made five years prior in FY 2017-18”, said the analysis.

Also Read | Education Budget 2023: Just 51% SSA funds released till December 2022

Despite the expansion of the scheme to include pre-primary, the MoE had proposed Rs 10,234 crore which was 54% less from the previous year's proposal and 49% lower than the amount proposed in 2020-21.

The PM POSHAN fund comes from two sources - the gross budgetary support and the Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh (PSK) or the 2% education cess, which is a tax-on-tax paid by the public towards elementary education through a non-lapsable fund.

The share of PM POSHAN funding through PSK has “increased drastically”, found the research group in its analysis.

“In FY 2020-21, the cess contributed 89% of the total GoI allocations for PM POSHAN, up from 60% in FY 2017-18. This further increased to 98% in FY 2022-23,” it said.

PM POSHAN Budget: Only 5 states got 60%

The researchers found that the release of funds under the PM POSHAN scheme has been slow. “Out of 36 states and UTs, only five states received 60 per ent of their funds by December 2022. Release of funds was lower than the national average for 20 states and UTs,” says the brief.

Under the scheme, wheat, rice, and fortified rice grains are bought centrally by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and sent to states. Till October 2022, only 49% of the grains allotted to states were lifted with Bihar and Maharashtra lifting more than 60% of their allotted grains and West Bengal lifting only 8%.

Also Read | Central team visits schools in West Bengal to review midday meal scheme

Mid-day meal cooking costs insufficient

The costs for ingredients and fuel form the largest part of the PM POSHAN budget. In October 2022, the cooking costs were raised to Rs 5.45 per child from Rs 4.97, per day for primary school and Rs 8.17 from Rs 7.45 for upper primary school students.

Between April 2020 and October 2022, India saw a 23.7% increase in food inflation but the government increased the cooking costs only by 9.6%. “Accounting for food inflation during the same period, we estimate that the cooking costs should have been increased to Rs 6.15 for pre-primary and primary section and Rs 9.21 for upper primary section,” the researchers said.

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