Type of Debate: BUDGET (GENERAL)
Title: Further combined discussion on the Budget (General) 2011-12 and Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) 2010-11 (Discussion not concluded).
I would like to e xpress my views on the General Budget for 2011-12. 1 must start by congratulating the Hon'ble Finance Minister for presenting a very balanced Budget which not only focuses on the development of the poor and downtrodden but also is a growth oriented Budget. As the Hon'ble Finance Minister has himself stated that the focus is on more transparent and result oriented economic management. The Budget has schemes for increasing farm productivity, reducing wastage, improving storage facilities and providing credit to farmers. Agriculture sector has received a big boost this year.
I want to draw the attention of the Hon'ble Minister towards some women related issues. This year Govt, has decided to increase the income tax exemption limit for individual male tax payers from 1.6 lakh to 1.8 lakh, however, forworking femalo'the limit has been kept same at 1.9 lakh. My submission is that the benefit of 20,000 Rs may be extended to working female also. The exemption limit for female tax payers should be increased to 2.10 lakh. Madam, working women h^eto perform multiple tasks . She has to take care of her household and her children apart from her work at her place of employment. For last many years the Govt, has been giving special tax exemption of Rs.40,000 to working women. I hope the Govt, would reconsider this.
I thanks the Hon'ble Finance Minister for increasing the salary of Anganwadi worker from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3000 per month and for Anganwadi helpers from Rs. 750 to Rs. 1500. To empower the women and to promote Self-Help-Groups Rs.500 crore has been year marked. This is a great step.
Senior citizens consists of about 9% of India's population. This year Hon'ble Finance Minister has classified senior citizens into two groups i.e. senior citizen and very senior citizen. This is an innovative step. I would request the Govt, to consider the following issues for betterment of their lives. Firstly, we should have a uniform age of 60 years for classification of Senior Citizens in all Ministries and Departments. Senior citizens have been very much affected due to low cost economy in yester years when their earnings were small and saving meagre compared to the present level. There were no pension schemes in most of the public sector undertakings and private sector. The Central and State Govt, pensioners are suffering due to inadequate pension they are getting. The Interest on senior citizen saving scheme is at present at 9% which is very meager considering the present inflation. Interest on senior citizen saving scheme must be increased to 11% and should always be 2% higher from term deposits rates. Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme has been enhanced from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500. Looking into the present cost of living scenario it should be increased to minimum of Rs. 1000, and all Senior Citizens above 80 including people staying at old age homes should be provided old age pension. The exemption limit for Income Tax for Senior Citizens should be raised to minimum Rs. 3 lakh per annum.
The government has taken up the task of providing free and compulsory education to all children from 6 to 14 years of age. Reports are coming that many children even after studying for 3 to 4 years in government run schools are not able to read simple sentences nor they are able to do simple addition or subtractions. This is an area of concern. We have to not only to expand access to education but also to improve the quality of education. We have to focus on education outcome. Thousands government school teachers are routinely deployed for non teaching activities. Deployment of teachers for non teaching work hinders teaching activates and teachers lose focus on their primary duty. Government can deploy unemployed youths registered in employment exchange for this work. There is huge shortage of special teachers who are trained to teach differently able children. Moreover, the special teachers are not getting salary as per the Sixth Pay Commission. I request that necessary orders may be issued so that special teachers get salary as per the Sixth Pay Commission.
On higher education sector there is an urgent need to create centre of excellence on various disciplines . There is a huge deficit of qualified teachers in our institutes of higher learning. Even in IIT's 20 to 30 % teaching posts are vacant. There is an urgent need to create a pool of competent teachers and professors. The creation of National Knowledge Network and the National Innovation Council as set out in the Budget speech of Finance Minister is a step in right direction.
The UNICEF's state of world children 2011 report has come as a shocking reality check for India. India is home to the largest number of adolescent girls in the world. 56% suffer from anaemia 45% are malnourished. Girls from impoverished families suffer from duel marginalisation - for being poor and being female. Girls are discriminated in every aspect of life most crucially in respect of getting access to education, nutrition and health facilities. Special dietary allowances should be given to all school going adolescent children. At present the government is giving Rs 3.50 for providing mid day meal under SSA to adolescent students (class 6 to 8) which is grossly inadequate to meet their growing nutritional demands. There is an urgent need to immediately double the daily allowance.
Health outlay is little more than l%of our GDP. Access to health care is becoming difficult and expensive for the poor and marginalised sections of the society. Due to non-availability of proper primary health care facility in the rural areas there is a huge pressure on the hospitals in urban areas. The government must think of doubling the spending on health sector. The government has decided to put service tax on diagnostic centres and hospitals having more than 25 beds with AC. I would request the government to reconsider this issue. The service tax will be ultimately passed on to the patients and result in health care becoming more expensive for the general public.
I would like to thank the Government for reducing the Excise Duty on Sanitary Napkins. Madam, sanitary napkins are not a luxury but an essential item. Due to lack of proper hygienic sanitary napkins adolescence girls and women suffer from various diseases etc. specially cervical cancer. I would request to reduce the Excise Duty on sanitary napkins to zero percent.
I have received various representations from the Domestic Garment manufactured regarding the 10% excise levied on Branded garments. Sir, since GST is already going to be levied from 2012 as per Hon’ble Minister statement the 10% excise will only bring increased paper work and inspector raj for one year causing harassment to the traders.
Sir, lLast but not the least and with popular demand, Sir, I request the Hon’ble Minister to increase the MPLAD funds which is currently 2 crores to 10 crores for development work in the constituencies. Sir 2 crores is a drop in the ocean and with the increasing demand and expectations of our constituents, 2 crores is a very meager and inadequate sum and renders us helpless in development work in our area.
Once again I would congratulate the Finance Minister and whole-heartedly support the Budget.