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Health ministry faces flak for low allocation, spending

Delhi,Business/Economy,Health/Medicine, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Even as the government is planning to increase health allocation in the 12th five-year plan, a report by a parliamentary committee Wednesday questioned the health ministry over under-utilisation of funds and low allocation in the current fiscal.


At a time when the government is aiming to increase the allocation to 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of the plan period, the report, on the ministry of health and family welfare's demand for grants, expressed concern over the low fund allocation to health in the first year of the 12th plan period and demanded to know the reason behind it.


The report, tabled in parliament Wednesday, said: "The committee is constraint to observe that there was substantial and persistent under-utilisation of the budgeted funds during the eleventh plan."


It said that while over Rs.45,000 crore was sought from the health ministry for 2012-13, the allocation was a little over Rs.27,000 crore, a mere 15 percent hike over 2011-12.


The report asked the health department for "the reason behind the substantially reduced allocation for 2012-13" and the rate at which the allocations will grow to take it to 2.5 percent of the GDP.


A log given in the report showed that the actual expenditure during the 11th plan period from 2007-12 was Rs.17,221.58 crore against the budgetary allocation of Rs.22,356 crore.


It said that the savings under the plan head underlined the fact that development activities had been curtailed.


"Though the committee is supportive of the department's demand of higher allocation of funds, it deprecated the department for failing to optimally utilise its plan allocation over the last five years," it said.


It also said that the under-utilisation was indicative of "slack monitoring" and that the budget estimates were made in "ritualistic manner without application of proper financial yardstick".


"The committee accordingly impresses upon the department to pay focused attention to streamlining its monitoring mechanism and ensure optimal and more efficient deployment and utilisation of funds," it said.


The health department has also been asked to again assess its funds requirement "realistically" and move to the Planning Commission for augmentation of financial resources after getting figures of the real expenditure for the current fiscal.


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