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Gender budgeting? A failed attempt

By BS Reporter in New Delhi
May 12, 2009 11:45 IST
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Three years after the Centre decided to publish separately the money it spends on women in the Union Budget, experts are questioning the methodology adopted, which in most cases inflates the amount spent.

An analysis of 21 schemes benefiting women by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, a Delhi-based non-government organisation, stated that the government had included schemes which had male beneficiaries also under the head "100 per cent women specific programmes".

Gender budgeting statement was introduced in the Union Budget for financial year 2005-06. It is divided into two parts. The first part (A) includes schemes that fully benefit women. The second part (B) compiles a list of schemes where at least 30 per cent of expenditure benefits women.

The Interim Budget for 2009-10 had Rs 51,159 crore (Rs 511.59 billion) under the gender budgeting statement, compared with Rs 49,623 crore (Rs 496.23 billion) in the fiscal ended March 2009. In part A, the government had provided Rs 14,553 crore (Rs 145.53 billion) in 2009-10, compared with Rs 14,875 crore (Rs 148.75 billion) in 2008-09.

An example of wrong methodology adopted is the Integrated Child Development Services, the world's largest programme for childhood development.

The ministry of women and child development says it spends two-thirds of its provision towards ICDS under gender budgeting. But the ministry does not give gender disaggregated data on the number of woman beneficiaries.

"Therefore, showing that 66 per cent of the budgetary provisions for ICDS are benefiting women and girls seems questionable," the report said.

In another scheme, Indira Awas Yojana, a rural housing scheme, even when beneficiaries could include both men and women, the government has classified it under Part A. Under this scheme, the houses can be allotted to both husband and wife.

In some schemes, the government has not provided information on the underlying assumptions. This is true in the case of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, a state-run school primarily for kids of government employees, and Navodaya Vidyalayas.

The budget documents say between 30 per cent and 44 per cent was allotted under the two government-run schools, but no information on how the figure was arrived at.

Same is the case for the popular Mid Day Meal Scheme, where 38 per cent of the provisions were made towards women.

Conflict with children budgeting statement: With the introduction of a child budgeting statement from 2008-09, there has been an overlap between the gender and child budgeting statements.

Schemes that benefit girls should appear in both the statements, but three government ministries -- women and child development, human resource development and health and family welfare -- have not done so, said the report prepared by CBGA.

Some of the schemes that are not included under this head are Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (a universal education scheme), Mid Day Meal Scheme and the ICDS.

"In each of these schemes, if girl children are expected to constitute at least 30 per cent of the beneficiaries then the scheme must be included in Part B of the gender budgeting statement," said the report.

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BS Reporter in New Delhi
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