Prasar Bharati Chairman A Surya Prakash taking things a notch further and continuing his standoff against the I&B ministry has knocked the doors of the higher level of government. Prakash initiated the step after Information and Broadcasting ministry had not released the funds meant to pay the salaries of the Prasar Bharati employees. Surya Prakash told the Indian Express that so far this year the I&B has not released the grants-in-aid to Prasar Bharati and therefore he has taken the matters to the higher authority. Every month, the ministry releases Rs 200 cr approximately of which most is used to pay the 29,000 employees of Prasar Bharati. After December, there has been no payments from the Ministry to Prasar Bharati and it had to use money from its own kitty, according to sources.
The Centre had allocated Rs 2,996.76 crore in the 2017 Union Budget, which was revised to Rs 2,514.37 crore. Till the month of December Rs 1,900 cr has been released. In a statement released by I&B Ministry said that as per the provisions of General Financial Rules (GFR), an autonomous body receiving grant-in-aid must sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry. Irrespective of repeated reminders from the ministry, Prasar Bharati has signed no MoU. In February 2017 after the GFR was amended by the government, it stated that every autonomous body has to sign MoUs with the administrative ministries if it was receiving budgetary support of Rs 5 cr.
According to sources, Prasar Bharati had prepared a draft of the required MoU and had shared it with the Ministry but they wanted certain changes which was not acceptable by the former. This has been deemed as the reason why an MoU was not signed. Some sources have also attributed the delay of the fund release to the increasing differences between I&B and the top management of the Prasar Bharati Board, particularly the Chairman. Both I&B ministry and the Prasar Bharati Board were loggerheads over several issues in the past.