Taking a serious note of the non-allocation and under-utilisation of resources for various government schemes, civil society organisations have sought more funds for flagship schemes in the health and education sectors in the Union budget and steps to ensure utilisation of the funds allocated.
The Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability and Oxfam India said on Tuesday that there was a need for greater allocation for the flagship schemes in health and education, besides effective utilisation of the allocated funds, and better accountability in schemes meant for the uplift of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Addressing journalists here after holding consultations across the country CEO of Oxfam India Nisha Agrawal said the ruling United Progressive Alliance had promised to increase spending on education to six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the overall spending stagnated at 3.37 per cent. With only two years left for the Eleventh Five-Year Plan to end, the Centre was unable to allocate even 50 per cent of the total outlays for such schemes as mid-day meal, strengthening of teachers’ training institutions and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. Moreover, she said, the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was yet to be notified.
Likewise, the total spending on health was hovering over 1 per cent of the GDP since the State governments did not accord priority to health in their budgets, Ms. Agrawal said. Furthermore, the rate of utilisation of funds for the National Rural Health Mission, the Centre’s flagship programme, was lamentable: while the Planning Commission had recommended a total outlay of Rs.89,478 crore for the programme during the Eleventh Plan period, the allocation made by the Centre in the first three years of the Plan period stood at Rs. 36,529 crore (a mere 40.8 per cent). During 2007-08, fund utilisation under this programme was low in several States.
As for the schemes for the uplift of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the organisations said that only a handful of the Union Ministries were reporting their plan allocations earmarked for these sections. There was no information in the public domain on the assumptions made by the Ministries about the number of the SC and ST beneficiaries of their schemes, based on which they were reporting their special component plan and tribal sub-plan allocations.
And, a large chunk of funds earmarked for their welfare were diverted to essential services and employment generation programmes, Ms. Agrawal said.