Kerala finds itself in a financial quandary as the central government has declined to provide funds for the school mid-day meal program, citing discrepancies in the recorded expenditure from the previous year. The central government’s argument centers on the fact that the Rs 209 crore spent during the fiscal year 2021-22 has not been documented within the Public Financial Management System (PFMS), a centralized monitoring system overseen by the Union Finance Ministry.
It has been made clear by the Centre that without the inclusion of this expenditure in the PFMS, the subsidy for the current year’s mid-day meal scheme will not be disbursed. Consequently, Kerala has been compelled to reassign the previously disbursed Rs 209 crores and ensure its proper documentation within the system.
The PFMS has recently taken on the responsibility of tracking the utilization of funds for centrally-funded schemes. Although Kerala voluntarily adopted this system in the 2021-22 fiscal year, the central government withheld Rs 132 crores intended for the mid-day meal program during that period.