Parliamentary panel asks govt to adopt fresh outlook towards agriculture budget
May, 02nd 2012
A parliamentary standing committee has taken a grim view of constant pruning of budget of agriculture ministry. It has asked the Centre to adopt a fresh outlook towards allocation of finances to the sector as it sustains economically weak farming community.
The parliamentary panel examining the demands for grants of agriculture ministry found that in the Eleventh Plan there was a wide difference between proposed budget estimate (BE) of the ministry and the approved budget estimate.
Moreover, the budget estimate amount was pruned at revised estimate (RE) stage and the actual expenditure was almost half of the proposed BE. During oral evidence of officials of agriculture ministry, finance ministry and Planning Commission, the panel found that the final allocations are pruned seeing past expenditure of the ministry.
The panel, however, has taken a serious note of this practice. It has observed in its report, "during the course of examination of demands for grants of the department the committee observes that there was a variation in figures between the amount initially approved of Rs 8,174 crore and the actual allocation of Rs 5,910 crore by the Planning Commission, thus leaving a gap of about Rs 2,264 crore. This realignment of figures by the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance bewilders the Committee."
The parliamentary committee said that there had been repeated pleas by the department for its full allocation.
"Keeping the importance of this sector in view of providing sustenance to the economically weak farming community, the committee desires the government to have a fresh outlook on this aspect during the Twelfth Plan and to ensure that full quota of allocated funds are actually provided to the department in the annual allocations of the 12th Plan."
During its oral evidence the Plan panel had said that agriculture was one of the priority sectors for it, but when allocation is done criteria such as expenditure over the previous year, absorption capacity of the department and unspent balance are applied.
However, the Plan panel has assured the standing committee that there would be better allocation to the sector in the 12th Five Year plan.