ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
NO. 2253- E, SHADI KHAMPUR, NEW RANJIT NAGAR,
PH: 011-25700476, 25709565
Date : 28th Feb.2013
AIDWA Press Statement on Budget 2013-14
The All India Democratic Women’s Association rejects the budget of 2013-14 presented by the UPA II government. Coming at the threshold of economic crisis, rising unemployment, fall in real wages and rising instances of violence amongst women, the budget proposals show that the government is not serious about solving the basic problems confronting the women today. The percentage of allocations for the gender budget remains static at 16.4 percent of the total budget and 5.8 percent of the total budget. It is even more disturbing that the total allocations for the ministry of women and child development, a ministry that is the nodal point for combating violence against women and looking after their welfare, the total allocation has gone up by a paltry Rs. 97.5 Crore. In fact the allocations for the 100 per cent women specific schemes of the Department of Women and Child Development have declined from Rs. 1673.98 Crore to Rs. 1553.98 Crore.
In their pre-budget memorandum to the finance minister, the women’s organizations had demanded effective measures to strengthen the infrastructure to combat and prevent increasing violence against women. They also asked for adequate allocations to strengthen the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and create fast track courts for speedy trial for victims of domestic violence. The government’s response to this increasing public pressure is seen in the finance minister’s announcement of the Nirbhaya Fund for which he has promised Rs. 1000 Crore the scope of whose expenditure has been left unclear. At present this fund is also not been accounted for in the gender budget and it is unclear whether it will eventually materialize. This shows that the UPA II is keen to make a hasty political move to garner the trust and confidence of the women protesters without taking any specific and concrete steps to implement the Justice Verma Committee recommendations.
The AIDWA has been demanding a universal public distribution system for tackling the problems of malnutrition and food security. The budget has once again ignored these demands and allocations for food security are miniscule. The Finance Minister announced an additional allocation of Rs. 10,000 Crore. Last year food subsidy was Rs. 5,000 crore less as reflected in revised estimates of 2012-13. Therefore the budget actually proposes an increase of a mere Rs. 5,000 Crore. It has further announced the setting up of nutria farms which are only likely to benefit big corporate farming initiatives that are now getting into food processing and contract farming. There has been a sharp decline in petroleum subsidy by more than Rs 30,000 Crore compare to last year’s revised estimate which would hugely burden people and cause further inflationary pressures.
One the major causalities of this budget has been the employment generation efforts for women under the MGNREGS. The MGNREGS has been given the same decreased allocation of Rs. 33,000 Crore with the gender component going up by a mere 12 Crore. The gender component of the National Rural Livelihood Mission or the Ajeevika scheme has only got an increase of 13.8 percent in a budget that is aimed to induce employment for youth and women. The government has announced measures for the relief for handloom weavers and has stated that such a scheme will largely benefit women. However, this measure is not enough as it provides no debt relief. Further allocations for the comprehensive welfare scheme for women handloom weavers has been reduced from 48 Cr to 28.50 Cr.
The health sector has been shortchanged even more than MGMREGS as the allocations for NRHM have come down from the earlier allocations of Rs. 30,000 Cr to Rs. 21, 239 Crore. This allocation also includes the National Urban Health Mission. The ICDS allocations have only gone up by 11.9 per cent which is not enough to take care of the rising costs of delivery and will not aid in the expansion of the scheme. Further there is no commitment for the universalization of the scheme for tackling women and child malnutrition schemes. Instead it just proposes an inadequate Rs. 300 Cr for the expansion of the scheme from 100 to 200 districts.
The budget also liberalises the norms for health insurance schemes and paves the way for exploitative micro-insurance companies. Though it extends this scheme to rickshaw pullers, rag pickers and angawadi workers, it provides no social security measures for women in the unorganized sector. This also true in the agricultural sector where no funds have been provided for relief to families of farmers whose husbands have committed suicides due to the agrarian crisis.
The Finance Minister has announced the creation of a public sector Women’s Bank and has allocated Rs. 1000 Crore for it. Through this the government hopes to support the credit needs of women and expand the bank linkage programme which is essential to support the National Rural Livelihood Mission. This measure is however too little too late as it does not ensure that women and their self help groups will get loans at low interest rates of 4 per cent, a long standing demand of the women’s groups. Rather the budget has proposed measures that will increase the interface between women’s groups and microfinance institutions that have been exploiting them.
An additional Rs. 200 Crore that has been allocated for the formation of the schemes for single women. While the AIDWA has been demanding such a scheme for many years, this amount is again a lump sum amount which has not been allocated for any specific scheme. Instead the finance minister has only urged the Ministry to formulate and announce a scheme that they should cover such women. At present it remains a hypothetical allocation. It is even more interesting to note that many schemes that could have been dove tailed and strengthened to support single women have suffered in this budget. The allocations for the Central Social Welfare Board has come down by Rs 10 Crore and the allocation for short stay homes have come down by 25 Crore.
At the end of his speech the Finance Minister identified this budget as one that stood in solidarity with women and the girl child. However the pattern of allocations and the policy framework supported by the budget only shows that the UPA II does not have the political will to respond to the needs of the aam aurat. Hence the AIDWA rejects this budget and calls upon all women and working classes to campaign and expose the political rhetoric and populism of the budget.
Shyamali Gupta Sudha Sundararaman
(President) (General Secretary)