Friday, February 19, 2010

Union Budget 2010-11: Expectations in health, education sectors

New Delhi, Feb 18 (UNI) As Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is all set to table the Union Budget for the fiscal 2010-11 on February 26, various civil society organisations are keeping their fingers crossed while expecting high from it.

Taking view of problems like non-allocation and underutilisation of resources for various schemes under the Centre, the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and Oxfam India yesterday demanded increased allocation for flagship schemes in health and education from this year's budget besides effective
utilisation of the allocated resources.

''Our concern is where would common man, who form the heart of the budget, stand in the Union Budget 2010. There is a need for greater allocation for the health and education schemes besides better utilisation and accountability and commitment towards them for the uplift of SCs and STs,'' Oxfam India Chief Executive
Officer Nisha Agrawal said.

Underlining the facts revealed after a series of people's consultations held by the CBGA across the country with support from Oxfam India, Ms Agrawal noted that the UPA-led government had promised a hike in public spending on education to six per cent of the GDP.

''However, the overall public spending on education continues to remain at a low of 3.37 per cent of the GDP,'' she said.

She claimed that the Union Government has not been able to allocate even 50 per cent of the total outlays in several schemes like Mid Day Meal, Teacher Training Institutions and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.

''Moreover, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 has also not been notified yet,'' Ms Agrawal pointed out.

Analyst Praveen Jha of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning of the Jawaharlal Nehru University was also present on the occasion.

He argued that the combined budgetary allocation for health stood at a meagre 1.04 per cent of the GDP for 2008-09, despite the fact that the UPA had made a commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme in 2004 that total public spending on health in the country would be raised to two to three per cent of the GDP.

''However, it stands at a meagre 1.04 per cent of the GDP for 2008-09 (Revised Estimates),'' Head of CBGA Yamini Mishra said.

''The government had promised upgradation of every district headquarters hospital and their strengthening to provide quality health facility, but nothing is visible even close to it,'' she added.

She further said the state of schemes for the uplift of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was also not impressive.

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