What is Estimates Committee?

Q.  Which of the following is/are true regarding Estimates Committee?

1) The origin of this committee can be traced to 1921.
2)There are no members from Rajya Sabha in it.

- Published on 03 Mar 17

a. Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWER: Both 1 and 2
  • The origin of this committee can be traced to the standing financial committee set up in 1921.

  • The first Estimates Committee in the post-independence era was constituted in 1950 on the recommendation of John Mathai, the then finance minister.

  • Originally, it had 25 members but in 1956 its membership was raised to 30.

  • All the 30 members are from Lok Sabha only.

  • The Rajya Sabha has no representation in this committee.

  • These members are elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its own members, according to the principles of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.

  • Thus, all parties get due representation in it.

  • The term of office is one year.

  • A minister cannot be elected as a member of the committee.

  • The chairman of the committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst its members and he is invariably from the ruling party.

  • The function of the committee is to examine the estimates included in the budget and suggest ‘economies’ in public expenditure.

  • Hence, it has been described as a ‘continuous economy committee’.

  • Functions -

    1. To report what economies, improvements in organisation, efficiency and administrative reform consistent with the policy underlying the estimates, can be affected.

    2. To suggest alternative policies in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.

    3. To examine whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates.

    4. To suggest the forth in which the estimates are to be presented to Parliament.

  • The Committee shall not exercise its functions in relation to such public undertakings as are allotted to the Committee on Public Undertakings.

  • The Committee may continue the examination of the estimates from time to time, throughout the financial year and report to the House as its examination proceeds.

  • It shall not be incumbent on the Committee to examine the entire estimates of any one year.

  • The demands for grants may be finally voted despite the fact that the Committee has made no report.

  • Effectiveness of the committee is limited by -

    1. It examines the budget estimates only alter they have been voted by the Parliament, and not before that.

    2. It cannot question the policy laid down by the Parliament.

    3. Its recommendations are advisory and not binding on the ministries.

    4. It examines every year only certain selected ministries and departments. Thus, by rotation, it would cover all of them over a number of years.

    5. It lacks the expert assistance of the CAG which is available to the Public Accounts Committee.

    6. Its work is in the nature of a post-mortem.

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