Highlights of the Union Budget 2016 for Women, Children, Defence and Safety-
- Total defence expenditure for 2016-17 is estimated to be Rs. 2,49,099 crores, an increase of 1.16% from last budget. While revenue expenditure is estimated to be Rs. 1,62,759 crores, capital expenditure will be Rs. 86,340 crores. The defence expenditure goes up to Rs. 2.58 lakh crores if provisions for civil works, ordinance factories, Border Roads Organisation etc are taken into account.
- For the first time, defence pensions are included in the defence budget itself. Defence pensions are estimated to be Rs. 82,332 crores. Last year, the same were estimated to be Rs. 54,500 crores. The substantial increase of over 51% is due to OROP. If pensions are included in the defence budget, total increase in defence budget turns out to be over 9% from the last budget.
- The Ministry of Defence failed to spend Rs. 13,188 crores provided for capital expenditure in the last budget.
- Acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France is taken into account.
- The allocation to Ministry of Home Affairs is increased by 10.37% from the last budget and is now Rs. 77,383 crores.
- Over half of this increase, Rs. 3,774.4 crores to be precise, is made for improving border infrastructure and management.
- The govt has launched Ujjwala Scheme under which LPG connections will be provided in the name of women members of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households. Under this scheme, the govt will provide a subsidy of Rs. 1,600 for each LPG connection and it is targeting to benefit 1.5 crores households in 2016-17. Rs. 2,000 crores has been earmarked this year to meet the initial cost of providing these connections.
- The scheme will continue till 2018-19 to cover a total of 5 crores BPL families. Priority will be given to states where LPG coverage is poor, especially in the east.
- The allocation to Ministry of Women and Child Development is Rs. 17,408 crores, an increase of 0.32% from the last year.
- Across all ministries, allocation for women welfare is increased by 11.54% to Rs. 90,625 crores while allocation for child welfare is increased by 1.74% to Rs. 65,758 crores.
- The allocations to Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) and Integrated Child Development Scheme have witnessed marginal cuts, and are now Rs. 400 crores and Rs. 16,120 crores respectively.
- Allocation to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme is increased from Rs. 75 crores to Rs. 100 crores. Shelter Homes for Women scheme (from Rs. 52 crores to Rs. 100 crores) and “One-Stop Centres” (from Rs. 13 crores to Rs. 75 crores) have also witnessed major hikes in allocations.
- Allocation to Nirbhaya Fund is Rs. 500 crores, for addition schemes for women safety.
- The budget for National Mission for Empowerment of Women is doubled to Rs. 50 crores. Allocations for schemes to combat trafficking and empowering adolescent girls have increased marginally while the scheme meant for implementation of the Domestic Violence Act has not received any allocation.
- Custom duty on raw materials used to manufacture sanitary pads, napkins and tampons is decreased from 5% to 2.5%.
- The increased allotment for defence budget is not sufficient to meet even inflationary pressures and increase in salaries.
- The low component of capital expenditure will mean less money for buying new equipment. However, it must be noted that the govt’s hands were tied due to increased expenditure of account of OROP.
- The low allocation for modernisation will cast a shadow on growth potential of the struggling private sector in defence that relies only on govt orders.
- Not spending the last allocated amount for capital expenditure is discouraging.
- Increased focus on border infrastructure was expected after the Pathankot terror attacks.
- The Ujjwala Scheme is praiseworthy. It will have the dual benefit of improvement in women health and pollution levels. A recent study by WHO showed that over 5 lakh women die because of household air pollution in India every year. Govt has taken a brilliant step in this regard.
- However, a simple calculation tells me that a subsidy of Rs. 1,600 to 1.5 crores families will result in an outflow of Rs. 2,400 crores, while the govt has made a provision of Rs. 2,000 crores only. Considering this, reaching the target of 1.5 crores this year seems far-fetched.
- Last year, budget for the Ministry of Women and Child Development was cut by half and was restored only after severe criticism. This year, the negligible increase in the budget leaves a lot of questions.
- The allocation to IGMSY is insufficient for implementing the scheme in all districts. The current proposal is to implement the same in 200 pilot districts.
- Apart from the schemes mentioned above, no other scheme has received any increase in its allocation.
- Reduction in custom duty on raw materials will lead to a fall in prices of sanitary napkins etc, promoting women health and hygiene. The govt should launch a nation-wide scheme to promote the use of sanitary pads etc, especially in rural India. It will give a major boost to women health across the country.
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