The Ministry of External Affairs should strengthen manpower in its embassies abroad and set up missions in all UN member states in line with India's expanding global stakes and considering the profound changes in the foreign policy domain, a parliamentary panel report said today.
In the report, the committee on external affairs also recommended an allocation of at least one per cent of the overall annual budget of the government to the ministry in view of its challenging mandate to make India an influential nation in the world.
The panel said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) remains one of the least funded central ministries as its revised budget hover around just 0.4 per cent of the total budgetary allocation of the government from 2020-21.
The report of the committee headed by PP Chaudhary was tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
"Keeping in view the magnitude and extent of India's diplomatic outreach and foreign policy objectives, the committee continues to feel that an allocation of at least one percent out of the overall budget of the government of India to the ministry is reasonable and achievable," it said.
The committee desired that the ministry strive to enhance its financial resources in line with its global diplomatic responsibilities.
At the same time, it said an increase in allocation without the capacity to utilise the amount would be meaningless.
The committee urged the MEA to work out a roadmap for enhancing its capacities and capabilities, whether it is in the form of structural change or a complete revamp of its organisational structure.
In the report, the panel said it is imperative that the cadre strength of the MEA is commensurate with India's expanding international stakes.
"The committee is of the view that with the profound changes taking place in the foreign policy, it is imperative that the cadre strength of the Ministry commensurate with India's expanding international stakes," it said, according to a press statement.
It said to work towards global leadership as envisaged and for executing foreign policy strategy effectively across countries, our missions must be staffed with highly skilled/trained diplomats.
With the felt need of having missions in all the UN member countries, there is an increased requirement of manpower in the diplomatic cadre, the report said.
"The committee desired that the MEA should get their cadre review done at the earliest to build capabilities for shouldering the expanded mandate while enriching the capacity of its existing personnel.
"The committee has further desired that this review should primarily be based on a comparative analysis of the strength of the diplomatic corps of our country with major developing countries, countries in the neighbourhood, and China," it said.
The committee also noted that a high-level mechanism is in place in the MEA to monitor the implementation of development partnership programmes and weekly reviews are being done by the officials at different levels.
The panel said it is further understood that the MEA is planning to establish a contract and procurement management unit and as a part of that, an online dashboard is being built to see with the click of a button how far the project has progressed, even in the last 48 hours.
"The committee is extremely happy to see the efforts to mark all projects online and monitor their implementation in a manner which links well with how the budget is spent on these projects," it added.
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