Ahead of Union Budget 2024-25, the Union Ministry of Finance has asked all ministries and departments to furnish details of consultants appointed by them, including their strength, selection process, normal tenure and average remuneration.
In an October 4 letter to ministries, Special Secretary in the Department of Expenditure in the Ministry of Finance, Annie George Mathew, told ministries and departments that the “information is required for meaningful discussion for allocation of Budget under the Professional/ Office expenses/ Salary head”.
Requesting ministries to accord the issue “Top Priority”, the letter asks them provide the information by October 9. Responses from some departments are still awaited, sources in the Ministry of Finance said.
The consultants being appointed by the ministries and departments, and in organisations and offices under them, could be young professionals, domain experts, professionals hired from consulting firms, personnel taken through outsourcing agencies, and executives from PSUs, state-owned banks and regulatory bodies on loan, and retired government employees.
A senior official in the Finance Ministry told The Indian Express, “We have no clear idea of the strength of professionals from outside. There are some departments under which many hundred people work as consultants, and some of them are paid very high.”
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Consultants from the Big Five firms PwC, EY, KPMG, Deloitte and McKinsey are placed in certain departments. Many are physically located in the offices of the ministries and departments, and some are also on sites where pilot schemes are being undertaken.
Among ministries which have hired large number consultants are Health and Family Welfare, Social Justice and Empowerment, Rural Development; Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Science and Technology, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Women and Child Development and NITI Aayog.
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A similar exercise was conducted by the Department of Economic Affairs in 2015, but was restricted to consultants hired from external agencies. This was scrutinised by a committee comprising secretaries of three departments.
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