New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) The social sector has sought several proactive steps from the Finance Minister including promoting social entrepreneurship amongst the young population, fiscal incentives for recycling of waste water and rainwater harvesting and increased budgetary allocation towards nutrition of infants, among its suggestions to the Finance Ministry to be considered for the upcoming Budget.
"Public investment in social infrastructure like education, health and other services is a key determinant of quality of life of the people. The present government is committed for improving the educational standards, skilling the youth, enhancing job opportunities, reducing disease burden, empowering women and improving human development in order to have inclusive development," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told representatives of the social sector industry at a meeting.
The main areas of discussion were in health (primary health & tertiary services, Ayush Ayurveda), education (school and university education, private and public education), social protection (old age, women and children, Dalits and Other Backward Classes and youth), and pensions and human development, among others, a Finance Ministry statement said.
The government has increased allocation for Ayushman Bharat, a central sector health project, to Rs 6,400 crore in the 2019 Budget. The government has also allocated Rs 6,400 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) for 2019-20.
Ayushman Bharat scheme received a Rs 4,000 crore boost from the last fiscal. Industry and experts suggested steps on hygiene for rural women, and audit of cities to identify security gaps to strengthen women's safety.
There were also demands for increased budgetary allocation towards nutrition of infants, full operationalisation of one-stop centres for women in all districts, expansion of healthcare infrastructure, provision of free drugs and diagnostic facilities, rationalisation of taxes on medical devices, and promotion of public private partnership in secondary and tertiary healthcare sectors.
The stakeholders also sought creation of model schools on cluster-based approach with electronic and transport connectivity, increased allocation for post-matric scholarship schemes, recognising and encouraging contribution of teachers though instituting awards, investment in protection of children from labour.
The meeting proposed higher taxation on sweetened and salted products, investment in hygiene behaviour, forming rural sludge management policy, promoting social entrepreneurship amongst young population, fiscal incentives for recycling of waste water and rainwater harvesting, declaring malnutrition-free panchayats on the lines of open-defecation free panchayats, increased budgetary allocation for special schools and rehabilitation centres among others, said the statement.
The meeting was attended by Finance Secretary Subhash C. Garg, Expenditure Secretary Girish Chandra Murmu, and Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, among others.