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FM's Rs 950 cr lip service to social sector

Sidhartha & Monica Gupta in New Delhi | July 10, 2004 11:34 IST

Finance Minister P Chidambaram's Budget for 2004-05 has actually made a meagre Rs 950 crore (Rs 9.5 billion) additional allocation for its grandiose social sector initiatives.

On the face of it, the government has increased the allocation for various social and rural development schemes by around Rs 6,000 crore (Rs 60 billion), including an extra Rs 2,225 crore (Rs 22.25 billion) for the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana.

But it has saved as much as Rs 5,050 crore (Rs 50.5 billion) by slashing the outlay for the Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana, a food-for-work scheme, by 52 per cent.

Of course, Chidambaram has set aside Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) for the poor in addition to his other Budget initiatives, but the actual money will flow in and the details of the schemes will be known only after the Planning Commission decides on its allocation.

In most cases, the initiatives announced have come without any substantial funding. The group health insurance schemes, for instance, have received an additional allocation of just Rs 3 crore (Rs 30 million).

In some other cases, Chidambaram merely announced a pilot scheme without any outlay or just a token allocation. He proposed a pilot project on food stamps under the Public Distribution System, for which no funds have been provided.

He merely asked states to come forward to launch such a scheme in 3-4 contiguous districts. An allocation for food credit cards was in place earlier as well, for which an additional sum of Rs 1.25 crore (Rs 12.5 million) has been earmarked for 2004-05.

Consider the allocation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, an issue, which the minister said, was very close to his heart. He has provided just an extra Rs 102 crore (Rs 1.02 billion) . The flood control and anti-erosion programme in the Ganga basin, too, will receive just Rs 6.5 crore (Rs 65 million) extra.

Also, the onus of spending on a large number of schemes has been passed on to banks, financial institutions and multilateral agencies.

For instance, the National Water Resources Development Project is proposed to be funded through external assistance and funds from banks and institutions like the Life Insurance Corporation.

Similarly, the government will contribute only Rs 18 crore (Rs 180 million) to the Rs 259-crore (Rs 2.59 billion) HIV/AIDS control initiative, with the rest provided under the "externally-aided component".

The minister also announced an investment of Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) in the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, which would be met through contributions from banks that do not comply with their agricultural lending targets.

Also, the large-scale investments in schemes like the Backward States Development Grants Fund are to be operational only from next year.

The annual investment in building the corpus of Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) over a five-year period is expected to largely come from central support to the Plan while Rs 1,800 crore (Rs 18 billion) will come from the Backward District Initiative Scheme.

Food subsidy has increased by Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion) to Rs 25,800 crore (Rs 258 billion). Among the other schemes with significantly larger outlays are the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Scheme, where the Centre proposes to spend an additional Rs 550 crore (Rs 5.5 billion) during the year.

Other schemes include the Indira Vikas Yojana, with a Rs 537 crore (Rs 5.37 billion) higher allocation and the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme with Rs 284 crore (Rs 2.84 billion) additional outlay.

In case of agriculture, the government has hiked Plan allocation for agricultural research by Rs 225 crore (Rs 2.25 billion) while the outlay for horticulture and vegetables has been increased by Rs 260 crore (Rs 2.6 billion).

The outlay for the SGRY decreased as the outlay under the special and the foodgrain components was reduced. Last year, the government provided Rs 4,889 crore (Rs 48.89 billion) under the special component to augment food security in the drought-affected areas.

This year, the allocation has come down to Rs 280 crore (Rs 2.8 billion) because of the prospects of a normal monsoon, officials said.

For the foodgrain component under the scheme, the Rs 260 crore (Rs 2.6 billion) allocation for the fiscal is only a fourth of the revised estimates of Rs 1,039 crore (Rs 10.39 billion) for 2003-04 following objections from the Planning Commission.

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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: SC ST allocation eh?

How much do they want? a trillion dollars?

Posted by Arnav Ghosh


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