Sitharaman showers incentives on women self-help groups

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 05, 2019 Published on July 05, 2019

Though ‘children’ did not figure in Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement, women self-help groups got a broader mandate   -  hadynyah

₹5,000 overdraft to SHG members; one woman in an SHG can get ₹1 lakh loan; interest sop extended to all districts

The Budget allocation to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has gone up by 18 per cent this year. While the increase was proposed in the vote-on-account in February by the outgoing government, the first-ever woman Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave it the stamp of approval in her maiden Budget proposals presented in Parliament on Friday.

The government has allocated ₹29,164.90 crore in 2019-20 compared to the revised Budget of ₹24,758.62 crore in 2018-19.

While ‘children’ did not figure in the Finance Minister’s announcement, there was a bid to boost the Women Self-help Groups (SHGs). Sitharaman chose to give them a broader mandate. She announced that one woman in every SHG will be able to avail of a loan of up to ₹1 lakh under the MUDRA Scheme. “This government has supported and encouraged women entrepreneurship through various schemes such as MUDRA, Stand Up India and the SHG movement. In order to further encourage women enterprises, I propose to expand the Women SHG interest subvention programme to all districts,” Sitharaman said.

Furthermore, she said for every verified SHG member, who has a Jan Dhan account, an overdraft of ₹5,000 shall be allowed.

The gender analysis of the Budget, which is aimed at examining the budgetary allocation, through a gender lens, has been in place for over a decade, she said. Sitharaman has also proposed forming a broad-based committee comprising government and private stakeholders to evaluate and suggest action for moving forward. Sitharaman said the Stand-Up India Scheme, which enables at least one Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe or one woman borrower to avail of a loan between ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore for setting up a green field enterprise, will continue for the entire period coinciding with the 15th Finance Commission period of 2020-25.

A look at what the Stand-Up India scheme has yielded reveals that women who have availed of its benefits have set up textile and dyeing businesses, manufacturing of steel products, beauty salons, an online examination centre, water purification plant, consultancy services and so on. “Banks will provide financial assistance for demand-based businesses, including acquisition of scavenging machines and robots,” she said.

Though green field enterprises are being encouraged among women, an analysis of the Budget documents reveals that allocations for yet another scheme ‘Swadhar Greh’ have been slashed despite high utilisation in previous years. The actual spending in 2017-18 was ₹57.21 crore, but the allocations in 2019-20 have been brought down to ₹50 crore. The scheme provides social and economic support to women in terms of food, clothing and shelter.

Published on July 05, 2019
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