Pre-Budget demands: Spend more on job guarantee, health

The health Budget also included a Covid-related special provision involving an allocation of Rs 35,000 crore to cover vaccination costs.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman chairs a pre-Budget meeting via video conferencing, in New Delhi on Saturday (PTI Image)
FM Nirmala Sitharaman chairs a pre-Budget meeting via video conferencing, in New Delhi on Saturday (PTI Image)

Representatives of various social sectors and trade unions impressed upon the government on Saturday to further bolster health spending amid the unprecedented Covid crisis, introduce an urban employment programme and enhance outlay for the rural job guarantee scheme.

As part of the pre-Budget consultation meeting, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday met experts from sectors including health, education, rural development and water and sanitation. Some of the stakeholders are learnt to have suggested that the government keep up the focus on creation of health infrastructure and take steps to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to tackle any Covid-like health emergency in future.

In the previous Budget, the government had raised outlay for the department of health & family welfare by almost 10% from a year before to Rs 78,866 crore. Similarly, the allocation for health research and the Ayush ministry was raised by 34% and 28%, respectively. Outlay for nutrition and drinking water & sanitation was enh-anced by as much as 350% and 253%, respectively, to Rs 2,700 crore and Rs 60,030 crore.

The health Budget also included a Covid-related special provision involving an allocation of Rs 35,000 crore to cover vaccination costs.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has submitted to the finance ministry that an urban employment guarantee programme be introduced with adequate fund allocation, given that a large number of migrant labourers work in various cities across India. It also wants the government to substantially raise allocation for the MGNREGA scheme to “avoid spread of poverty” during the pandemic. It also suggests that support under this rural job scheme be extended for 200 days per family per annum, against 100 days now.

Urban joblessness rate rose to its 11-week high of 8.75% in the week ended November 28, according to the data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The rate in towns and cities was 8.14% in the previous week and 9.2% for the week ended September 12, the highest level in recent times.

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