The finance ministry has written to all government departments and ministries, directing them to check on the various autonomous and funded institutes, and bodies under them, and hold a review to assess whether they are levying adequate “user charges” for services they are providing.
“The larger aim is to ensure that all these institutions make a conscious effort towards periodic review and rationalisation of user charges, and explore various ways of doing so,” Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa told ET. “These are assets built from public money and they must explore various revenue streams. This was also a recommendation of the expenditure panel,” he said.
Student fee largely makes up user charges at funded institutions such as IITs and IIMs, and entry tickets do so in the case of cultural bodies and museums, while bodies under infrastructure ministries have more sources such as rentals from real estate along with tickets and tolls.
Hike in student fee is a politically sensitive issue since it invites charges of going against principles of equitable and accessible education. In the case of monuments and museums, though, many want higher priced tickets as is the case in many nations which use the revenue for better maintenance.
“Many institutions are in a position to recover higher charges through either the infrastructure they have or through other services and this can add to the revenue stream. The aim is to get them to do so,” Lavasa said.
Officials said ministries across the board are holding hectic meetings to review the user charges as directed by the finance ministry. While various departments of petroleum ministry met on Friday, the culture ministry held a meeting on the issue earlier in the week. The HRD ministry is still collecting data on the user charges its many institutions levy.
While the general financial rules broadly ask all government-funded institutions to look at models of revenue generation, the finance ministry is now going beyond that with this review to ensure that user charges are levied if this is not being done and to push towards an increase if necessary, said a senior official, who did not wish to be identified. All autonomous bodies are submitting the data to the financial advisor in the ministries concerne, officials said.