Social development plans compromised for promised welfare schemes in Odisha

Nation Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Even though this year’s State Budget has significantly increased to 15.7% than previous year, the social welfare and development programmes were compromised at the cost of schemes like KALIA, launched just before the elections.

This was revealed by an analysis on State budget 2019-20. The Accountability Centre (OBAC) of Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD) has conducted the analysis.

“This year’s budget has significantly increased to 15.7% than previous year and so as the social sector too. However the pre-declared schemes such as KALIA, Parbati Giri Mega Lift Irrigation, State’s own Food Security Scheme, Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, are some of the major drivers of the budget in this year. The other social welfare and development programmes were compromised at the cost of these driving schemes,” says it.

A panel discussion organized was organised here where experts expressed concern over this year’s fiscal deficit which is almost double of the fiscal deficit of Rs 9359.49 crore in 2017-18. Quantum of funds from Central Government to Odisha (i.e. State’s share in central taxes and Grant in Aid) will increase from Rs 61382.8 crore in FY 2018-19 RE to Rs 69766 crore in FY 2019-20.

Yet, share of Odisha’s own revenue in total revenue receipts shows decline between FY 2015-16 and FY 2019-20, from 45% to around 39%. So the state may focus on increasing the state’s own revenue as per the target of this year, said the experts. They also released the analysis booklet ‘Budget Talks Our Priority: Response to State Budget 2019-20.’

The analysis also reveals that the gap between budget allocation and actual expenditure across departments is a serious issue in a state like Odisha. Analyzing the budget for rural health services, it is revealed that Odisha had budgeted Rs 1,875 crore, Rs 2,003 crore  and Rs 2, 298 Crore in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively of which actual spending stood at Rs1,639 crore, Rs 1927crore, and Rs 1,980 Crore respectively, showing a gap of 12 to 13 percent.In 2019-20 BE, the allocation for Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) is Rs 1232.94 Crore which is 18 percent of the H&FW budget. The state is focusing more on health insurance scheme. It seems that primary health care needs are likely to be compromised at the cost of BSKY.

The Farm sector of Odisha receives a fancy allocation of Rs 20714 crore for the FY 2019-20 which is a 23.5% hike than the previous year’s total outlay. Its share in the total state budget is 14.9%. However, KALIA has taken a lion’s share i.e. Rs 5611 crore (Rs 5501 crore under Agriculture Department and Rs 110 crore under Cooperation Department) in the total agriculture budget compromising other sectors. Segregating the allocations towards KALIA scheme from the Agriculture budget, the remaining size of the agriculture budget is Rs 15213 crore which is Rs 1552 crore less than last year’s agriculture budget which had an outlay worth Rs 16765 crore. Agriculture Budget 2019-20 saw much deviation towards direct income support to farmers compromising farming as a whole. Reduced allocations in a number of schemes that strengthen farming, risk mitigation, pre and post harvest infrastructure. Income augmenting scheme KALIA too does not specifically address these concerns.

In 2018-19, 23,75,340 households demanded jobs under MGNREGS of which 23,71,662 households are given job including 39,20,492 number of people. But only 47,333 households have completed 100 days of work which is only 2% of total households demanded jobs. If we assume that if all the households will demand unskilled job for 100 days then the state will need Rs 4465.64 crore against the allocation of 1200 crore in 2019-20 BE.

The Economic Survey Report 2018-19 states that the average days of work under MGNREGS in Odisha is 15. So the allocation seems to be made keeping the view of the average days of 15. Again the unskilled wage rate in the state is Rs 188 per day is very low and demoralizes people to demand job under MGNREGS.  However, the government hiked the minimum wages of unskilled workers from Rs 200 to Rs 280 in 15 employment sectors, considering the growing rate of inflation. Don’t the daily wage earners get affected by price rise and inflation?

Participating as an expert former Board of Revenue member Arabinda Behera said that Government should timely implementation of schemes and disbursements of benefits to the people.

“The state may focus on more investment in social sector capital assets than increasing the revenue expenditure,” said noted economist Prof Bhagabat Patro.

“Like NITI Aayog at Centre, the State Planning Board may be revamped for policy suggestions,” said Institute of Finance Director PK Biswal.

Ramadevi University Associate Professor Dr Aparajita Biswal, Finance Department Deputy Director Satyapriya Rath, CYSD cofounder and chairman PK Sahoo, and Suresh Mantry of Samaj Relief Committee also participated in the panel discussion.

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