Budget 2020-21: While major development schemes across education, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and rural development sectors have faced constraints, better utilisation of funds at the district-level may hold the key to make these projects effective on ground.
Budget 2020 India: While major development schemes across education, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and rural development sectors have faced constraints, better utilisation of funds at the district-level may hold the key to make these projects effective on ground. Given the government’s limited fiscal space, India must improve the utilisation of budgetary resources, according to a report by Tata Trust and Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA). The report also said that the information regarding budgetary resources and its utilisation can be easily accessible at the Union and state levels, it is difficult to access such information on district and sub-district levels.
Therefore, the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DISHA Committee) was introduced in 2016. “In spite of this, problems of resource absorption in social-sector schemes have not been addressed comprehensively and the dearth of evidence from the ground have impeded effective reforms,” the report added.
In order to ensure that funds are utilised in a proper manner at districts and sub-district levels, the report suggested that there should be standardised formats for each scheme to report physical and financial data on a regular basis. Apart from this, district-specific MIS systems and dashboards should be created to keep records and monitor the progress of schemes and facilitate interactions among various stakeholders regularly. Not just online but offline data repositories should also be created at the district level to enable prompt policy decisions.
Watch Video: What is Union Budget of India?
While the government has brought in several schemes, many living in small towns are unaware of the offers and benefits. Thus, awareness programmes should be organised on a regular basis at the level of districts and below to create public demand for relevant data and facilitate public participation, the report said. Furthermore, to streamline the fund flow mechanisms for expediting fund utilisation in development schemes, the report said that physical and financial performance progress reports of schemes should be made available to the public in the DISHA portal. Funds through centrally sponsored schemes could be routed through the district treasury system for proper distribution.
Meanwhile, if there is a delay in fund flow for any scheme, the report said that a revolving fund mechanism can be introduced for pooling resources for various schemes. “Revolving Funds can also be established with the help of CSR funds and institutional donors. If there are fund disbursement delays for development schemes, adequate flexibility should be given to the district authority to use the funds from other schemes and adjust the same later,” the report added.