Delhi Budget 2018: The Delhi government on Wednesday presented its third Budget, which was called a ‘green budget’ focused on 26 actionable points for curbing pollution, but what has stolen the show is a whopping 26% of the total allocation to the education sector. And while Delhi’s Budget is much smaller in size and has lesser priorities to focus on than the Union Budget, the education sector is one such sector that unequivocally needs undivided attention.
This is where the Arvind Kejriwal government gets it right and from the beginning and for the fourth straight Budget. After assuming power in February 2015, in its first Budget, the Kejriwal government allocated about 24% to the education sector, which was 104% higher than what was allocated in the previous national capital Budget by the then Sheila Dixit government.
In following years, the Budgetary allocation to education has been 22.9%, 23.5%, and 26% in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. On the contrary, while Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech, talked about putting education on priority, the allocation to education was just 3.48% of the total budget at Rs 85,010 crore. While from last year’s allocation, in absolute terms, there was a hike of more than 3%, in percentage terms, the budgetary allocation was lower. In 2016-17, the Narendra Modi government had allocated 3.69% of the total Budget. In fact, this year the allocation to the education was lowest in five years.
Of the little allocation, the government did try to focus on school education with an allocation of Rs 50,000 crore, with focus on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, and Mid-Day meal programme but it in higher education, the budgetary allocation was cut. The budgetary allocation was cut for IITs, IIMs and the UGC. The Budgetary allocation in the education sector since the first Budget in 2014 has gone down subsequently from 6.15% to 3.48%.
The Economic Survey 2018, released before the Budget hinted that government’s fiscal constraint may take a toll on the outlay for the education sector. Arun Jaitley also announced fiscal slippage to 3.5% as against the aim of 3.2% of the GDP. While the Delhi government has often enjoyed revenue surplus despite higher expenditures.