Funds allocation to MEA inadequate considering India's foreign policy objectives: Par panel

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New Delhi, Mar 17 (PTI) The budgetary allocation to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is inadequate, considering the extent and magnitude of India's diplomatic outreach and foreign policy objectives, a parliamentary committee said in a report on Wednesday.

It said the budgetary resources will play a 'determining role' in the country's pursuit of a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as it requires adequate global presence and expansion of diplomatic outreach.

The report of the committee on external affairs was tabled in the Lok Sabha.

The panel noted that against the MEA's demand for Rs 22,888 crore for 2021-22, it has been given a budgetary allocation of Rs 18,154 crore, which is merely 0.52 per cent of the government's overall budget.

'Keeping in view the extent and magnitude of India's diplomatic outreach and foreign policy objectives, the committee strongly feel that the allocation is incommensurate and inadequate,' it said.

The 30-member committee, headed by BJP MP P P Chaudhary, includes Meenakshi Lekhi, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Preneet Kaur, Abhishek Banerjee and Poonam Mahajan.

The panel said the provisioning of adequate finances is critical to ensure that India's global footprint and diplomatic outreach is 'not circumscribed'.

'The committee, therefore, strongly recommend that the allocation to the Ministry of External Affairs, mandated with managing India's external relations, should further be suitably and appropriately enhanced from what is being provisioned now,' it added.

The committee said the MEA should also make a strong case for the same.

Referring to the outlay to the MEA for 2021-22, the panel, however, mentioned that the allocation is the highest ever to it and is 4.66 per cent more than the budgetary estimate in 2020-21 and 21 per cent more than the revised estimate of allocation in the year.

'Notwithstanding these figures, the percentage of MEA's budget during 2021-22 as a percentage of the government's budget is merely 0.52,' it said.

'While the increased allocation to MEA in absolute terms is a fine development, however, it is continuously slipping down as a percentage of the government's total expenditure,' the panel observed.

Recognising the significance of a focussed budgetary planning process, the committee emphatically stressed upon the need to develop a well-defined and focussed budgetary planning process by the MEA.

It also criticised the MEA for its 'casual approach' towards the panel's earlier recommendation for conducting a cross-country comparative study of the budgetary allocations for the ministries and departments entrusted with the task of managing foreign affairs.

The report said the MEA informed the committee that a preliminary report of a study conducted is under examination and that its comprehensive assessment has been completed. The MEA also informed the panel that more comparative study variables are being included in the report.

The committee strongly recommended that the findings of the preliminary report should be furnished to it 'instantly' and the final report should be compiled within three months.

'The ministry should also ensure that the comparative data and figures are used to bolster its case for enhanced budgetary allocation in the next financial year,' it said. PTI MPB RC