| 16 Apr 2024
Govt failed to pay 100 per cent salary of Prasar Bharati employees

NEW DELHI: Specific steps need to be taken to improve the planning and implementation of different schemes by Prasar Bharati, a Parliamentary Standing Committee has said.

It has also said the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B Ministry) in consultation with the Finance Ministry should evolve a mechanism that will ensure funds once allocated at the Budget Estimate stage are not withdrawn - unless there is a major shortfall in utilisation - so that the execution of planned schemes does not suffer mid-way due to want of funds.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information Technology, which deals with I and B, was making this comment in the background of being informed that despite the decent pace of utilisation at the BE stage, substantial reduction of funds take place which is undoubtedly hampering the timely execution of planned schemes.

The Committee took note of the fact that the outlay for the Plan schemes pertaining to Prasar Bharati constitutes a major chunk of the total plan outlay of the Ministry.

The Ministry has taken steps to improve planning and implementation, which includes delegation of financial power up to Rs 300 crore to the Prasar Bharati Board, restoration of sanctioning power to DGs up to Rs 20 crore and rationalising the procurement period in Prasar Bharati.

The Committee felt that these measures would facilitate quick decision making in Prasar Bharati, paving the way for the smooth and speedy execution of approved projects.

 But the Committee wants the I & B Ministry to make earnest efforts to bring improvement in the overall financial performance, which will enable them to achieve the laid down physical targets.

The Committee noted that during the year 2014-15, the Government had allocated Rs 436 crore under Plan funds and Rs 2001.98 crore under Non-Plan funds for Prasar Bharati to meet salary and salary related expenses.

Separately, Prasar Bharati allocates Rs 200 crore annually from its Internal and Extra-Budgetary Resources for Content Development under Software Scheme under the 12th Five Year Plan proposal.

As against the projected revenue of Rs 2195 crore, the revenue receipts of Prasar Bharati during the year 2014-15 stood at Rs 1380 crore up to February 2015, which was expected to rise to Rs 1800 crore.

The Committee was informed that in addition to adopting aggressive marketing strategies, Prasar Bharati has also undertaken measures for better publicity of programmes to augment IEBR generation.

One of the areas of concern expressed by Prasar Bharati relates to diversion of IEBR resources towards meeting Non-Plan expenditure because the Ministry has not fulfilled the obligation to pay 100 per cent salary of Government servants recruited with Prasar Bharati for the past three years.

The Committee recommended steps should be taken for early release of payment of Rs 429 crore due to Prasar Bharati from the year 2012-13 to 2014-15.

Diversion of resources of Prasar Bharati meant for Content Development has reportedly affected revenue generation by Prasar Bharati, especially Doordarshan. In view of the Cabinet decision taken in September, 2012 wherein it was decided that all operating expenses would be met by Prasar Bharati through IEBR, except salary and salary related expenses.