Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Mar 01, 2005
Industry & Economy
The big picture: Social sector thrust
The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, alighting from his car before proceeding to his office at North Block on Monday. Ramesh Sharma
GROWTH, stability and equity are mutually reinforcing objectives. The National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) leans towards decisive intervention by the State in favour of the poor. Given the resilience of the Indian economy, it is possible to mobilise the resources and launch a direct assault on poverty and unemployment. That is the only way to bring immediate relief to the aam admi.
Let me first give the big picture. In 2004-05, Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for the Plan was Rs 1,45,590 crore to which we added Rs 2,000 crore subsequently.
India is not a poor country, yet a significant proportion of our people are poor. Poverty is not only income poverty. Other indicators of poverty are illiteracy, disease, infant mortality, malnutrition, absence of skills and unemployment. The whole purpose of democratic government is to eliminate poverty and give to every citizen the opportunity to be educated, to learn a skill and to be gainfully employed. The Government holds that it is its sacred duty to empower the poor and eliminate the scourge of poverty.
Growth & job creation: In the last Budget, I had rejected the idea of jobless growth. As I unfold the vision of the UPA Government, Honourable Members will note that the central theme that runs through the various schemes and programmes is creation of jobs. Assured irrigation facilities to an additional one crore hectares of land over a period of five years will generate employment for an additional one crore people at the rate one person per hectare. The food processing industry is growing at a rate which generates 2.5 lakh jobs every year. The textile sector alone has the potential to create 1.2 crore jobs over the next 5 years. The information technology (IT) industry is expected to offer an additional 70 lakh jobs by 2009. Construction industry is also expected to throw up lakh of jobs. Sectors with potential for generating employment will receive the highest attention of the Government.
Employment guarantee: After the National Food for Work programme was launched in November 2004, provision was made for the cash component and the foodgrain component. In overall terms, the expenditure in the current year is estimated at Rs 4,020 crore. For 2005-06, a provision of Rs 5,400 crore for the cash component and 50 lakh tonnes of foodgrains have been made and, in overall terms, the allocation will increase to Rs 11,000 crore.
It is Government's intention to convert this programme into the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. When fully rolled out, the scheme will provide livelihood security for crores of poor families, and I promise to find the money for the programme.
Health mission: The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) will be launched in the next fiscal. Its focus will be strengthening primary health care through grass root level public health interventions based on community ownership. The total allocation for the Department of Health and the Department of Family Welfare will increase from Rs 8,420 crore in the current year to Rs 10,280 crore in the next year. The increase will finance the NRHM and its components like training of health volunteers, providing more medicines and strengthening the primary and community health centre system.
I am also happy to announce that work on the six AIIMs-like institutions will start next year to augment medical education in deficient States. The Antyodaya Anna Yojana now covers 2 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. The number will be increased to 2.5 crore families in 2005-06.
Child development: The universalisation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is overdue. It is my intention to ensure that, in every settlement, there is a functional anganwadi that provides full coverage for all children. As on date there are 6,49,000 anganwadi centres. I propose to expand the ICDS scheme and create 1,88,168 additional centres that are required as per the existing population norms. Forty seven per cent of children in the age group 0-3 are reportedly underweight. Supplementary nutrition is an integral part of the ICDS scheme. I propose to double the supplementary nutrition norms and share one-half of the States' costs for this purpose. I also propose to increase the allocation for ICDS from Rs 1,623 crore in BE 2004-05 to Rs 3,142 crore in BE 2005-06.
Mid-day meals: The Mid-day Meal Scheme for children has made a promising start throughout the country. Eleven crore children are covered today. The Central Government is now providing the cost of food grains as well as the conversion cost at the rate of Re.1 per child. The allocation in BE 2004-05 was Rs 1,675 crore. I propose to increase the allocation for the next year to Rs 3,010 crore.
Education: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme is the cornerstone of the Government's intervention in basic education for all children. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was allocated Rs 3,057 crore in the Budget Estimates for 2004-05. During the course of the year, I enhanced the allocation to Rs 4,754 crore. A non-lapsable fund called `Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh' has been created for funding this programme. I propose to increase the allocation to Rs 7,156 crore in 2005-06.
Drinking water: All drinking water schemes have now been brought under the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission. In the current year, so far, 31,355 uncovered rural habitations have been provided drinking water facilities. During 2005-06 the emphasis will be on covering more habitations. Emphasis will also be laid on tackling water quality in about 2.16 lakh habitations in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal and some other States. I propose to increase the outlay for the Mission from Rs 3,300 crore in the current year to Rs 4,750 crore in the next year.
Sanitation, however, remains critically deficient. Only about 30 per cent of the rural households have access to safe sanitation facilities. The Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) now operates in 452 districts. Government intends to extend the TSC to all districts, and I propose to allocate Rs 630 crore for the next year.
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