Bhubaneswar: A panel discussion responding to the State Budget 2018 was organised today by the Department of Analytical and Applied Economics, Utkal University along with civil society groups like the Youth for Social Development (YSD) Berhampur and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSY), Bhubaneswar at the PG Council Hall of Utkal University. The discussion attended by members from civil society, activist groups and academia was an effort to bring together different stakeholders of the society in public policy discourses. The discussion was also addressed by Shri Panchanan Kanungo, Former Finance Minister and budget expert; Shri Dillip Satapathy, Resident Editor- Business Standard and Dr. Sarit Kumar Rout, health expert from PHFI.
The discussion started with the welcome address by Dr. Siba Sankar Mohanty, HOD-Analytical and Applied Economics, Utkal University, who emphasized on the critical significance of a social watch over the formulation and implementation of budgets. He mentioned that the views expressed by the group will be presented to the Finance Minister through a memorandum by the students.
Analyses of budget 2018-19 with special focus on education, health, water & sanitation and on marginalized groups were presented by the research scholars from the Department of Analytical and Applied Economics, Utkal University and Youth for Social Development (YSD), Berhampur. The key points highlighted are:
- The proposed budget indicate a growth in the share of government in the overall economy. BE as % of GSDP has grown from around 25 % to 27%. After deflating for the growth in GSDP (approx 6.6 %), there actually is only around a 5 percent increase in the allocations from the previous year.
- In education, there is a decline in the allocations as % of total budget in School and Mass Education (from 12.28 in 2017-18 RE to 12.1 in 2018-19 BE). Even when the government is clamoring for the make in Odisha and imparting of skill to the masses, there actually is a decline in the allocations of skill development and technical education. In higher education too, the government does not seem to care for the enhancement of scope of universities newly constructed and other requirements. Allocations are not just sufficient for the purpose. For example, only 41 lakhs for the newly constructed GM University.
- The 71stround of NSSO reveals that in Odisha, around 81 percent in rural and 58 percent in urban areas still depend on public health care facilities. In terms of allocations, although, there is an increase in the allocations in absolute terms as % of total budget, it has gone down from 5.44 % in 2016-17(Actual) to 5.08 in 2018-19 (BE).
- In other crucial sectors too the allocations are not very promising given the significance of the year as the last fiscal before the next general and assembly elections.
“The budget did not have any critical focus on agriculture. The current budget ignored the food processing sector although the provision of group credit for tenant farmers is an appreciable step”, said Shri Panchanan Kanungo. He added that the budget also throws an opportunity for wage employment, it has ignored skill development. He also expressed his concern over the debt dependency of this budget by an amount of around Rs 20000 crores.
Shri Dillip Satapathy said there is nothing new in this budget. As all the so-called programs have already been announced by the Government on different occasions during last two three months.
Dr. Sarit Rout, expert from Public Health Foundation of India, focused on specific provisions in the health sector.
The panel discussion ended with formal vote of thanks by Shri. Bibhu Prasad Sahu, Member Secretary, YSD, Odisha.