Budget 2015-16: civil society demands more development funds for minorities
Civil society organisations have demanded increase in budget allocation for Ministry for Minority Affairs (MoMA) to make up for shortage of funds for development needs of minority groups across sectors.
The demand was put forward through a document, “Policy Asks and Expectations from Union Budget 2015-16”, which was presented by civil society budget groups collectively as the People's Budget Initiative, under the aegis of Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA).
Jawed Alam Khan, senior research officer at CBGA, that has prepared the report, said, “reporting of expenditure under 15 Point Programme by Union ministries has been more in the nature of retrospective budgeting where the allocations for minorities are earmarked after the budgets for the schemes have been finalised, without any special measure taken for minorities during the budget preparation phase. Suggestions for changing this is the highlight of the policy document prepared by CBGA,” he said.
While the budget allocation for Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs is Rs 4,498 crore in 2014-15 (BE), MoMA got only Rs 3,734 crore, he said.
The 12th Five-Year Plan also noted that there is a need to increase the financial allocations for the ministry to scale-up interventions under multi-sectoral development programme by earmarking greater financial outlays across board and making educational schemes demand-driven, which according to the plan require greater allocations for MoMA.
District Information System of Education (DISE) data reveals that as of 2011-12 around 11Muslim children were vying for one scholarship.
The policy document recommends budgetary allocation and unit costs of scholarships to be enhanced to the levels of scholarship for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the application procedures to be simplified as well.
The document demands that the Union Budget 2015-16 should introduce a statement on fund allocations for the welfare of minorities in all programmes and the schemes covered in the 15 Point Programme, as is being done for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (through statements 21 and 21A, expenditure Budget, Volume I).
Criticism of retrospective budgeting
The schemes and programmes in 15 Point Programme do not prepare exclusive action plans for minorities considering the specific needs and challenges faced by Muslims. Currently, with regard to expenditure in the 15 Point Programme, post- facto approach of accounting system is followed. Planning strategies for minorities do not appear to have influenced planning or budgeting of schemes in any significant way; what they have influenced most visibly is the reporting of some of the allocations and expenditures in a few schemes.
According to policy document, a scrutiny of the programmes/schemes across several Union ministries also indicates that they were merely “assuming” that a certain proportion of funds in a certain scheme would benefit minorities based on the guideline of 15 Point Programme which defies the very purpose of having the programme. Projects meant for minorities should have a beneficiary- oriented approach and cover minority dominated hamlets/area in projects related to infrastructure and basic amenities, the document says.
“Policy Asks and Expectations from Union Budget 2015-2016” states that the Union government needs to urge most of its ministries to identify the needs, difficulties and challenges confronted by the minorities in their sectors of concern and also identify measures that could be taken by them to address those special difficulties/challenges. It also recommends that to specify the amount of additional resources required for formulating special projects for them. Also, the additional resources devoted for the special measures for the minorities should be reported under 15Point Programme, the report suggests.
- Increase the budget allocation for the Ministry of Minority Affairs to cater to the multitude of developmental deficits confronting minorities across sectors.
- Budgetary allocations and unit costs of scholarships need to be enhanced, at least to the levels of the scholarship for scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; application procedures should be simplified.
- Introduce a statement to capture fund allocations for the welfare of minorities in all programmes and schemes covered in the PM’s New 15 Point Programme
- Prepare annual action plan and need-based projects, exclusively for the development of Muslims, by the ministries under the PM’s New 15 Point Programme.
- Enhance allocation for strengthening the State wakf Boards and improve the documentation and computerisation of the wakf properties.
- Allocate resources for construction and maintenance of hostels for Muslim girl students
- Allocate budgetary resource for skill development, training and entrepreneurship development among Muslims and other minorities with provision for creation of an e-commerce platform