Saturday, February 27, 2016

Rs 5.51 lakh crore budgeted for welfare remain unutilized, UPA was responsive to democratic dialogue: NAPM

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of mass organizations across the country, has sharply criticized the NDA for government for failing to follow the tradition of pre-budget consultations organized by the Union Finance Ministry during the UPA government, saying these were “a dialogue in democratic decency."
It said, while the UPA granted "due primacy  the people’s organizations and non-electoral representatives and their views, in the present case, current government is all out for impingement on spaces of civil society and of movements critical of corporate policies”.
In a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ahead of the union budget, NAPM, which is led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar, noted there was “obsession with economic growth”, estimating, “Rs 5,51,532 crore worth allocation for the marginalized section remained unutilized” during the last financial year.”
Pointing out that this happened when “hundreds of farmers committed suicide”, it added, “The heavily under-utilized budget components are indeed the ones which could make a difference for resolution of the crises faced by farmers to the displaced persons.”
Providing examples of unutilized funds in certain critical sectors, NAPM said, the Ministry of Textiles failed to incur any expenditure for Procurement of cotton by Cotton Corporation of India under price support, for which Rs 120 crore was allocated. It called this “a grossly criminal act in the context of cotton growing farmers not getting an optimum price, resulting in many suicides.”
The Department of Food and Public Distribution failed to utilize Rs 5,004 crore of food subsidy due to non-adjustment of bills. “How can this be justifiable when the country continues to witness starvation deaths and the 80% of our population is known to be earning less than Rs 20 a day, as per Arjun Sen Gupta’s report which is missing from official websites?”, NAPM asked.
NAPM gave following examples in support of its argument:
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs failed to utilize Rs 214.01 crore for the educational welfare of scheduled tribes out of Rs 589.6 crore allocated for it “due to non-receipt of complete/adequate proposals/ utilization certificates from some state governments”.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment failed to spend Rs 156 crore for pre-matric scholarship for scheduled castes (SCs) as against Rs 171 allocated for it.
  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas did not spend Rs 2930 crore allocated for subsidy on domestic LPG and PDS kerosene. “This is not due to voluntary withdrawal from subsidy scheme but to ensure profits to big dealers of oil and gas at the cost of the poor”, NAPM noted.
  • Department of Social Justice and Empowerment failed to spend Rs 439.04 crore allocated for the ‘Self-employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers’. NAPM said, this suggests, “Removal of manual scavenging and towards caste annihilation is obviously no priority.”
  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs did not utilize Rs 327.56 crore “due to cut imposed at revised estimates stage.” NAPM said, “Even after Justice Sachar’s report the policy that mitigate the disparity faced in violation of the constitutional rights is no concern for our planners.”
  • The Department of Financial Services failed to spend Rs 3,476 crore fund of “interest subversion for providing short-term credit to farmers” due to non-settlement of pending claims owing to administrative reasons.
  • The Ministry of Coal failed to spend Rs 176.13 crore towards payment of compensation to land owners of coal bearing areas as against the expenditure of Rs 1048.83 crore incurred for it.

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