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Mukherjee holds consultations with civil society representatives ahead of Annual Budget

New Delhi, Tue, 17 Jan 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Jan 17 (ANI): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held consultations with representatives from the country's civil society groups and non-government organisations here on Tuesday in a bid to gauge the views of the social sector ahead of the Annual Budget.


Stakeholders from the vibrant social sector exchanged views and ideas on a range of issues with the Finance Minister during the meeting.


Many civil society representatives said that they had urged Mukherjee to ensure adequate measures to boost health and education sectors and strengthen the existing planning and implementation mechanisms at the grassroots in the upcoming budget.


"How the government is going to deliver in the education sector? How the government is going to deliver in the health sector? How the government is going to really fulfill the aspiration of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, marginalised sections, unorganised sectors. We hope that the government will take some action and let us see that how the government reacts to this," said national coordinator of National Conference of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), Ashok Bharti.


"Ultimately, things will come out in the budget and we certainly hope that, looking at the political environment and the environment in the country, the government will take positive steps in this direction," he added.


The President of Society for Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA), Rajesh Tandon, echoed similar sentiments, and stressed on the need to carry out social audit in the existing development schemes to remove anomalies.


"It is not just the question of increasing allocations. First of all, in the economic situation the country is in, we ask for protection of the existing allocations, that they should not be reduced. But, we also ask for better implementation of these. Two points were made, one was, block level and district level, and Gram Sabha level, planning should be emphasized. The constitution provides for it, but it is not being done," said Tandon.


"We want the Finance Minister to signal that. Second point that was made was, social audit today is only compulsory in NREGA. It should be brought in at all centrally sponsored schemes. SC, ST (scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes), all plans should have social audit. Let the 'dalit' families do the social audit, give a feedback and hold the delivery system accountable," he added.


Aiming to receive feedback on the various policies that could be incorporated in the budget for the financial year 2012-2013, Mukherjee will be holding a series of meetings with the industry bigwigs, sectoral experts and trade union leaders over the next three weeks.


The annual budget for 2012-2013 will be presented after the completion of the upcoming assembly polls in the country's five states that are scheduled to take place between January and March. (ANI)


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