Parliamentary Panel Recommends Allocating 1% of Total Union Budget to MEA

Compared with many other countries, India's foreign service is the most short-staffed, the parliamentary group said.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) should strengthen the workforce of its embassies abroad and establish missions in all UN member states in line with India’s expanding global interests. A report by a parliamentary panel on Tuesday said it considered profound changes in the foreign policy arena.

In the report, the foreign affairs committee also recommended allocating at least 1% of the government’s annual budget to the ministry, given its daunting task of making India an influential country worldwide.

The panel said the MEA remains one of the least funded central ministries as its revised budget only accounts for around 0.4% of the total government budget allocation for 2020-21. The committee report headed by P P Chaudhary was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

“Given the size and scope of India’s diplomatic outreach and foreign policy objectives, the committee believes that it is reasonable and achievable to allocate at least 1 per cent of the total Government of India budget to the Ministry,” it said.

The committee expects the ministry to work to increase its financial resources in line with its global diplomatic responsibilities.

At the same time, it says it does not make sense to increase allocations without the capacity to use them.

The committee urged the MEA to develop a roadmap to improve its capabilities and capabilities, whether in the form of structural changes or a complete overhaul of its organizational structure.

In the report, the panel said the MEA cadre must be commensurate with India’s expanding international interests.

“The committee believes that with profound changes in foreign policy, the ministry’s cadre must be commensurate with India’s expanding international interests,” it said in a press statement.

It said that to strive for global leadership as envisioned and to execute foreign policy strategies in countries effectively, our missions must be staffed with highly skilled/trained diplomats.

The report said that demand for diplomatic cadres has risen as the need is felt for missions in all UN member states.

“The committee expects the MEA to complete their cadre review as soon as possible to build the capacity to undertake the expanded mandate while enriching the capabilities of its existing staff.

“The committee also expects that this review will be based primarily on a comparative analysis of the strength of our country with major developing countries, neighbouring countries and China’s diplomatic corps,” it said.

The committee also noted a high-level mechanism in multilateral environmental agreements to oversee the implementation of development partnership programmes. Officials at all levels conduct weekly reviews.

The panel said it had further learned that the MEA planned to establish a contract and procurement management unit. As part of this, an online dashboard is being built to allow the click of a button to see how projects are progressing, even over the last 48 hours.

“The committee welcomes the effort to flag all projects online and monitor their implementation in a way that closely correlates with how they are budgeted for,” it added.

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