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Budget to list funds spent on minorities

By Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi
January 18, 2008 14:25 IST
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In a first such exercise, the government has decided that the Budget will have a record of the funds spent under its 15-point programme for minority welfare - an important signal it is gearing up for the general elections.

At a meeting to review the programme today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked his Principal Secretary TKA Nair to keep a record of all schemes and funds under this head so that they can be mentioned in the Budget speech.

The programme was announced after the Justice Rajinder Sachar committee submitted its report on the socio-economic status of Muslims in India.

Under the programme, the government had declared that 15 per cent of all welfare funds under various schemes of central ministries would be set aside for the minorities.

The prime minister, according to sources, said the government's efforts for the minorities and other disadvantaged groups should be highlighted. This, and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Bharat Nirman, are the government's flagship programmes.

The rural development ministry has already sought that the Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension programme be extended to disabled and widows.

The prime minister has said he will consider this. The budget for the pension programme is already scheduled to be doubled in the coming Budget to more than Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion).

The meeting, held at the prime minister's residence, was attended by Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

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Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi
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