Seek special thrust to all sectors that directly or indirectly impact inflation

With inflation impacting every household, women's groups on Tuesday appealed to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to give a special thrust to all sectors that directly or indirectly impact inflation.

A memorandum submitted to Mr. Mukherjee by nine women's groups asked him to ensure increased supply through production, stoke higher demand through creation of purchasing capacity by generating remunerative employment, and tone up the public distribution system.

It said the economic crisis in recent years had put increased pressure on women along with other sections. Given the loss of livelihoods, many more women shoulder the burden of running the household and feeding the family. The memorandum urged Mr. Mukherjee to take these aspects into consideration and ensure that the coming budget reflected the needs and problems of women adequately.

Price rise

“The price index of essential commodities in the current fiscal year is much higher than at anytime in the past. The budget should note the need for appropriate policy measures to address price rise. We request that stringent measures be taken to control prices, by banning forward trading of wheat and rice and urgently undertaking de-hoarding measures. The Essential Commodities Act should be reintroduced — it must include all items earlier covered under it and be implemented effectively to curb speculation and hoarding,” the memorandum said.

It wanted the ‘disastrous policy' of deregulating petrol pricing, which had led to repeated price increases and escalating cost of transportation of essential commodities, to be reversed.

The memorandum said rural health care infrastructure must be strengthened, and the budget must make higher allocations for Primary Health Centres. Resource allocation for provision of safe drinking water and universal sanitation, especially in rural areas and urban slums, was needed on a priority basis. Public childcare facilities should be provided for all working women, including from the unorganised sector, as also maternity benefit allowance.

It demanded adequate budgetary provisions to implement the Right to Education Act and achieve universal access to quality education. Expenditure on Sarva Siksha Abhiyan must be increased and education centres upgraded to proper schools.

The organisations that signed the memorandum were the All India Democratic Women's Association, Centre for Women's Study, All India Dalit Adhikar Manch, All India Women's Conference, Joint Women's Programme, Guild of Service, Muslim Women's Forum, National Federation of Indian Women and Young Women's Christian Association.

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