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The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, which comes under the Ministry of Agriculture, gave up Rs 44,015.81 crore of its budget in the last three years, as it could not fully utilize its allocation, according to a Parliamentary Standing Committee report tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday.
In its report on the Demand for Grants (2023-24) of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing, headed by PC Gadgooudar, asked the government to “avoid” the “practice” of surrender money.
“The Committee notes from the Department’s reply that funds totaling Rs 23,824.54 crore, Rs 429.22 crore and Rs 19,762.05 crore have been waived during 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 (report), according to their order. . “That means the department has given up a total of Rs 44,015.81 crore in these years.”
The report said that the relinquishment of funds by the ministry was mainly due to “less demand” for the schemes meant for the welfare of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities. “The Committee has been informed that the surrender of funds is mainly due to reduced requirements under NES (North Eastern State), SCSP (Scheduled Caste Sub-Scheme) and Tribal Area Sub-Scheme (TASP) ,” he noted.
“The Committee feels that the practice of giving money away must be avoided in every way from now on in order to allow the tangible benefits arising from the schemes to penetrate to ground level in the best possible way, ” he said. “The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Department identify reasons that lead to giving up money and take corrective action to ensure that the money is used fully and efficiently.”
The report also highlighted that the department’s budgetary allocation as a percentage of the Centre’s total budget fell from 4.41% in 2020-21 to 2.57% in 2023-24.
“The Committee notes that the Department has admitted in its replies that the share of Budgetary Allocations made in favor of the Department in terms of the percentage out of the total budget of the Government of India during the years 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022 was -23 and 2023-24 at 4.41%, 3.53%, 3.14% and 2.57% respectively,” the report said.
He said, “The total Budget expenditure of the Central Government in 2020-21 was Rs 30,42,230.09 Crore, which increased to Rs 45,03,097.45 crore in 2023-24. Considering the prominent role that agriculture plays in rural livelihoods, employment generation and the country’s food security, the Committee recommends that the Department address the issue of budgetary allocation in percentage terms out of the Pool Central with the Ministry of Finance and ensure that. the trend is being reversed from the next Budget onwards,” he said.
The committee also asked the department to investigate the reasons for the delay in settlement of claims by insurance companies under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. He also asked the department to take the necessary measures and make joint efforts to tackle them in the best possible way so that they are counted in the best practices to be adopted globally and improve the credibility of PMFBY among the many farmers.