The SAD-BJP governments welfare-oriented Budget has little to spare for its two main social sectors health and education. While the outlay for education,including technical education,is just 2.53 per cent of the state gross domestic product a few notches down from last year that for medical and public health is a mere 0.81 per cent in the 2012-13 Budget,just 0.13 per cent higher than the previous year.
In terms of percentage to total expenditure,education will account for 14 per cent and health just 4.74 per cent. This,despite the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India every year pointing out the poor quality of expenditure owing to low priority given to social sector. The CAG report had stated that while other states spend 37.5 per cent of their total expenditure on social sector,Punjab spends less than 20 per cent. The states spending on education of 14 per cent is below national average of 16.2 per cent.
The Budget also reveals poor priority to the much-needed capital expenditure required for asset creation and spurring growth. The capital expenditure for 2012-13 is pegged at Rs 5,815 crore against estimated revenue expenditure of Rs 41,167 crore.
However,despite poor allocations,the Economic Survey has stated the Educational Development Index (EDI) of the state has jumped from 14th in the country in 2006-07 to third after Kerela and Tamil Nadu in 2011. Citing that dropout rate of school students has improved in primary,elementary and secondary levels,it added that the figure was hovering around eight per cent earlier in primary level,but is down to 2 per cent in 2011. The decline in elementary level dropout rate is from 10 per cent to 1.7 per cent and in secondary level,from 10 per cent to 8.4 per cent.
On Right to Education Act,it said that a household survey has identified 18,459 children in the age group of 6 to 14 years who are out of school. And it is not just schools where the gross enrolment ratio has gone up. The survey also stated that enrolment for colleges has improved from 2.95 lakh in 2009 to 3.12 lakh in 2010.
The survey further paints a picture of a healthier Punjab. The infant mortality rate has declined from 44 in 2006 to 34 in 2010,the most drastic fall from 38 to 34 coming between 2009 and 2010,and a even higher five points in rural infant mortality. The projected life expectancy for the period 2011-15 is 69.7 years for men against national average of 67.3 years and 72.8 years for women against national average of 69.6 years.