The Union Finance Minister Shri P .Chidambaram said that higher growth in economy gives an opportunity to the Government to roll out development programmes for different sections of society especially for neglected and poor sections of society. In this regard he specifically mentioned about MGNERGA, National Rural Health Mission, Prime Minister™s Gramin Sadak Yojana and Prime Minister™s New 15 Point Programme for Minorities among others. The Finance Minister said that our every action should lead to restoration of Indian economy back to the path of higher growth. Shri Chidambaram said though the year just passed by was difficult one, but we have come out from that phase and the focus in next year would be on higher growth. The Finance Minister was making his opening remarks during his third pre-budget consultation meeting with Social Sector related Groups here today. He further said that global economy was passing through a critical phase and we can™t remain unaffected. The Finance Minister said this was visible through decline in exports, slowdown in investment, high inflation and problem of restoring fiscal health of the country. He hoped that by the end of fiscal year, some good results will be seen in the economy.
Along with the Finance Minister, both the Minister of State for Finance Shri S.S. Palanimanickam and Shri Namo Narain Meena, Adviser to the Finance Minister, Shri Parthasarthy Shome, Finance Secretary, Shri R.S. Gujral, Secretary, Financial Services & Disinvestment, Shri D.K. Mittal, Revenue Secretary, Shri Sumit Bose, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Shri Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Shri Prem Narain, Secretary, Department of Disability Affairs, Smt. Stuti Kacker, Special Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Kesav Desiraju, Chief Economic Adviser, Dr. Raghuram R. Rajan, and Chairman CBEC were present among others.
The representatives of Social Sector Group made various recommendations and suggestions for consideration for the forthcoming Union Budget 2013-14. The suggestions included engagement of highly qualified professionals at grass root level, tax exemptions of the amount donated to the non-profit organisations, recognition of legitimate profit making NGOs for banking loan and financing, use of services of NGOs for financial inclusion, Swalamban Scheme and Aam Admi Bima Yojana. Some participants suggested empowerment of Panchayats to strengthen their implementing capacity, linking of rural development programme MGNERGA to linking of rivers and development of inland waterways as well as linking Aam Admi Bima Yojana with MGNERGA etc.
Some participants suggested higher allocation for rehabilitation of disabled people whose number is around 2.5 crore, early disbursement of grants to NGOs, funds allocated to NGOs to be made non-lapsable and tax concession for Non-Banking Financial Companies/Institutions (NBFCs) and Micro Financing Institutions (MFIs) among others. Certain participants asked for higher allocation for sustainable agriculture and promoting renewable energy. They asked for declaring renewable energy sector as priority sector lending, more tax on high energy consumable goods, stipulation of renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020, target for replacing chemical fertilizer with organic fertilizer and creation of fund for setting-up School of Ecology in all State Agricultural Universities among others.
Certain participants asked for exemption of charitable institutions from service tax, more allocation of funds for alleviating urban poverty, recognition of workers in informal sector, linking of planning and allocation to specific outcomes and results, higher allocation for welfare of SC/ST, formulation and adoption of National Competition Policy, national policy for public and private use of ground water and in urban areas, bank linkages for Self Help Groups, higher investment in education, gender equality and for providing water and sanitation facilities especially in small towns among others.
About 18 representatives of different social sector groups participated in today™s meeting including Shri Binju Abraham, PRADAN, Ms. Namrata Bali, SEWA Academy, Shri Swami Tyagarupananda, Rama Krishan Mission, Shri Sandeep Pandey, ASHA, Shri Mohamed Musa, Care India, Shri M.P. Vasimalai, DHAN, Ms. Vinatha M. Reddy, GRAMEEN KOOTA, Shri Ashok Khosla, Development Alternatives Group, Shri Rajesh Tandon, PRIA, Shri D.R. Mehta, JAIPUR FOOT, Dr. Rukmani Banerjeee, PRATHAM, Shri Mathew Titus, SA-DHAN, Ms. Rohini Nilekani, ARGHYAM, Shri Ashok Bharti, NACDOR, Shri Sanjay Jain, SANTEK, Shri Pradeep S. Mehta, CUTS, Shri Samit Aich, Greenpeace and Shri L.V. Saptharishi