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Pre-Budget consultations: Social sector experts meet FM; seek job, health spend boost

As part of the pre-Budget consultation meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday met experts from sectors including health, education, rural development, and water and sanitation.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
December 19, 2021 3:45:37 am
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Representatives of various social sectors and trade unions impressed upon the government on Saturday to further bolster health spending amid the unprecedented Covid crisis, introduce an urban employment programme and enhance outlay for the rural job guarantee scheme.

As part of the pre-Budget consultation meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday met experts from sectors including health, education, rural development, and water and sanitation. Some of the stakeholders are learnt to have suggested that the government keep up the focus on creation of health infrastructure and take steps to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to tackle any Covid-like health emergency in future.

In the previous Budget, the government had raised outlay for the Department of Health & Family Welfare by nearly 10 per cent from a year ago to Rs 78,866 crore. Similarly, the allocation for health research and the Ayush Ministry was raised by 34 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively. Outlay for nutrition and drinking water & sanitation was enhanced by as much as 350 per cent and 253 per cent, respectively, to Rs 2,700 crore and Rs 60,030 crore.

The health Budget also included a Covid-related special provision involving an allocation of Rs 35,000 crore to cover vaccination costs.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has submitted to the Finance Ministry that an urban employment guarantee programme be introduced with adequate fund allocation, given that a large number of migrant labourers work in various cities across India. It also wants the Centre to substantially raise allocation for the MGNREGA scheme to “avoid spread of poverty” during the pandemic. It also suggested that support under this rural job scheme be extended for 200 days per family per year, against 100 days now.

Urban joblessness rate rose to its 11-week high of 8.75 per cent in the week ended November 28, as per the data compiled by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The rate in towns and cities was 8.14 per cent in the previous week and 9.2 per cent for the week ended September 12, the highest level in recent times. FE

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