Did India’s children get their rightful share in the 2016-17 budget?

Did India’s children get their rightful share in the 2016-17 budget?
Highlights

Children have been left behind in the nation’s budget – yet again. Despite comprising over 40% of the population, children got an unfair share of just 3.32% of the total expenditure this budget. Though the Statement 22

Children have been left behind in the nation’s budget – yet again. Despite comprising over 40% of the population, children got an unfair share of just 3.32% of the total expenditure this budget. Though the Statement 22 on budget provision for welfare of children has been presented consistently, concerns persist about the errors in the figures presented in a few critical allocations. In the nation’s blue print for growth, have the children found their space?

The following analysis is from the statement 22 of Volume I of the Expenditure Budget 2016-17.

Budget for Children (BfC)

· Health

Health of children below five years and newborns remains a matter of grave concern for the country, where 1.2 million children die before they reach 5 years and more than half of these, even before they reach their first birthday. The causes are almost always preventable and treatable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea. However within the budget allotted for children (3.32% of the total), the allocation for Health remained only at 3.6% of the BfC (2359.89cr).

It is a welcome move that the Government will make access to generic drugs through 3000 pharmacies across the country. Still, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare received a share of only 1.62% of the total expenditure, of which the National Health Mission has a share of less than 1%. With more people getting trapped in the cycle of poverty repeatedly due to out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare, a budgetary allocation of 3% GDP still remains a distant reality.

(source: Statement 22)

· Education

Every child below the age of 18 years deserves to have an education and skills that prepare them for life. With a UNICEF estimate of 17.8 million children in India out of school and the new Education Policy in the anvil, we haven’t seen much change in the budget for education. In the allocation for children, from 70% for education in the BE 2015-16, it came down to 65% BE this year (BE 2016-17). Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Mid-day Meals had a lesser allocation this year.

Source: Statement 22 Vol I (2016-17)

Year

2015-16 (BE)

2015-16 (RE)

2016-17 (BE)

Budget for Children

58016.72

64635.09

65758.45

SSA

22000

22015.42

22500

%

37.92%

34.06%

34.22%

MDM

9236

9236

9700

%

15.92%

14.29%

14.75%

RMSA

3565

3565

3700

%

6.14%

5.52%

5.63%

Total Education

40756.07

40976.56

42433.85

%

70%

63%

65%

(source: Statement 22, Vol I)

The share for Department of School Education and Literacy is only 2.1% of the Total Expenditure of Union Budget, a decrease from 2014-15 BE. Without investing in education, especially in the primary years, the demographic dividend cannot be turned into an advantage. There is no clear indication as to how the New Education Policy will be budgeted and implemented. While the RTE implementation has gaps in achieving the intended learning outcomes, there at least needs to be a consistency in funding for education.

Zero discrimination and barrier-free access to all children for all facilities has been a long-pending demand. However,children with disabilities continue to suffer marginalisation even in the Budget. From a mere 0.06% in 2015-16 allocation among the BfC, it is further reduced to 0.03% this year.

The pre-matric scholarships for SCs is almost cut to half from 1.28% to 0.74% (2016-17). While it is the children from the most marginalized sections who drop-out of school, it is unfortunate that the support for education for girls from marginalized groups is reduced.

Child Protection is on a downward trend. Despite the hype around more resources for the reform homes when the Juvenile Justice Act was amended, this particular aspect has not seen any priority in the Budget allocations. With the crimes against children increasing and also with more children in need of care and protection especially after the amendment, it is disappointing that the allocation has dropped. Even the ICPS scheme witnessed a reduction from 0.7% last year to 0.6% this year in the BfC. Eradicating violence against children is most essential to eradicating poverty as children exposed to violence have higher vulnerability to poverty.

· Nutrition

With nutrition rates improving in the country, it is a good move that the government has gone back to the earlier amounts of allocation though it is far from what is needed. In spite of a higher allocation for ICDS, the allocation for the Ministry of WCD remains less than 1% (0.88%) of the total budget. The economic survey noted the need to focus on the health and education of India’s children.

2014-15 (BE)

2015-16 (BE)

2015-16 (RE)

2016-17 (BE)

Budget for Children

81075.26

58016.72

64635.09

65758.45

ICDS

18195

8335.77

15483.77

14000

%

22.44%

14.37%

23.96%

21.29%

· World Vision India’s Recommendations

1. Prioritise children’s health, nutrition, education, development and protection by allocating a higher budget share for programmes / schemes towards child well being.

2. Allocate more resources for the protection of children, especially in the ICPS scheme and also for the reform of juvenile homes.

3. Allocate 3% GDP for Health and 6% GDP for education sectors which will accelerate progress towards the commitment to achieving the SDGs.

4. Set up a strong system for participation of all citizens, including children and youth in the process of Budget planning, implementation and monitoring.

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