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Budgets continue to ignore women, farm sector

Sunday 4 July 2004

JAIPUR, JULY 4. Successive annual budgets in Rajasthan in the post- liberalization period have been increasingly cutting down on allocations on development expenditure and in the social sector. The shrinkage of budgetary provisions for health, education, food security and for the farm sector have left the poor to fend for themselves during the decade following 1992.

By Our Special Correspondent

A study of the annual budgets in the State, carried out by the Budget Analysis Rajasthan Centre(BARC), indicates that most the State spending is in debt servicing and payment of salaries to its staff. The State’s debt burden, which stood at Rs.19,261.76 crores in 1997-98, has grown to an estimated Rs.59,280.05 crores at present. This has taken the per capita indebtedness in the State from Rs.3768.72 in 1997-98 to an estimated Rs.9860.29. "The successive budgets have been progressively ignoring women and farmers, specially in the farm sector while the allocations in agriculture and food security, the medical and health, employment training and community irrigation projects have been going down", Ginni Srivastava, coordinator of BARC said presenting a budget analysis to the media here.

Rajasthan spends less than 1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in medicine and health. In the year 2002-03 the State spent Rs.74.73 crores less in the sector compared to the previous year even as 80-85 per cent of the total allocations for the sector went into payment of salaries. There has been a steady decline in the expenditure on medicines. Compared to 1998-99, the expenses on medicines supplied to the poor have registered a 3 per cent decline in 2003-04. The expenditure on food distributed to the poor in the Government hospitals too has come down. "In Rajasthan no new community health centre, primary health centre or sub centre has been opened since 2001. The allocation for health has shrunk to 0.86 per cent of the GDP in 2002-03 from an equally dismal 0.91 per cent in 1998-99", Ms.Srivastava pointed out.

Rajasthan, which is spending 4 per cent of the GDP on education, however spends less than 2.5 per cent of the GDP on primary education. Yet, the budget for education has been going up in the State over a period. Compared to 1998-99, the budget for the sector went up by 46.6 per cent and out of this allocation for primary education marked an increase of 61.6 per cent.

However it cannot be overlooked that 96-99 per cent of the allocations for primary education is utilized in the payment of salaries of teachers and other employees. The expenses on libraries and sports get confined to less than 1 per cent. Mercifully in 2004-05 the State Government has kept Rs.4 crore for the libraries.

BARC’s budget analyst Vijay Goel pointed out that there had been an increase of Rs.219.79 crores in the allocation for water supply and sanitation in the current year. However 60-65 per cent of the allocations go for water supply in the urban centres. The budget for water supply in the rural areas came down by 36 per cent during the past seven years. Same was the case with the tribal sub-plan area, he said.

Perhaps the most dramatic fall has been in the farm sector where the allocations came down from 1.56 per cent of the total revenue expenditure in the State in 1995-96 to a mere 0.82 per cent in 2003-04 and 0.87 per cent in 2004-05. The budgetary allocation on agriculture extension activities and training has been reduced 3.10 per cent of the total revenue expenditure from 8.35 per cent in 1995-96.

Most neglected among the farming class turns out to be women as they accounting for a high 67.02 per cent of the total farmers have to work on both in the fields and at the homestead. Since 1995-96 there has been no allocation for their separate training.

See online : The Hindu


in The Hindu, Sunday, July 04, 2004.

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