Budget 2020

Budget bids adieu to welfare state, rue civil rights activists

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on February 10, 2017

The increase in mid-day meal allocation is nullified when adjusted with inflation, says Right to Food Campaign   -  The Hindu

‘Fails to ease distress caused by demonetisation’

Terming the Union Budget 2017-18, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, as detrimental to the realisation of the welfare State, as enshrined in the Constitution, civil rights organisations said it “fails to respond to the present situation of distress and unemployment especially aggravated by demonetisation.”

“The Budget seems to be perpetuating unemployment, hunger and malnutrition,” said a release by the Right to Food Campaign (RFC), an umbrella of over 100 civil rights organisations and individuals, citing the example of the mid-day meal budget, which has been increased from ₹9,700 crore to ₹10,000 crore, which “is not an increase at all when adjusted for inflation.”

“The budget for Integrated Child Development Scheme is up from ₹14,560 revised estimate (RE) to ₹15,245 budgetary estimate (BE), which is certainly not an increase in any meaningful sense,” said RFC, adding that budgetary allocation for the National Nutrition Mission (₹1,500 crore) does not indicate what this is for, as earlier years have also seen allocations under this head not being used.

“Last year, the ₹400-crore BE for nutrition mission was reduced to ₹39 crore in the RE. In any case, before expending the funds of this mission, the details have to be made public to ensure transparency and should be accompanied by public consultations/deliberations,” said the RFC, which includes National Federation for Indian Women, Human Right Law Network, National Campaign for People's Right to Information, among others.

With regard to the rural job guarantee programme, MGNREGA, the RFC accused the Finance Minister of “misleading” the people.

“The fact, as per the figures available on the website, is that on the day of Budget i.e. February 1, 2017) ₹46,618 crore had already been spent in the 10 months of the FY 2016-17 and the available funds for the current year is to the tune of ₹50,060 crore. To say, therefore, that the allocation is highest is misleading and masks the ground reality,” it said, adding that when indexed for inflation, “there is hardly any increase in real terms over the previous year's RE.”

Published on February 10, 2017
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