Allocations in the health care and education sectors have declined in the 2018 budget said experts at a discussion on Odisha budget here.

The discussion was organised 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.

Dr Siba Sankar Mohanty, HOD-Analytical and Applied Economics, Utkal University, emphasised 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 marginalised groups were presented by the research scholars from the department.

The budget estimates as percentage of GSDP has risen from 25 to 27 percent. After discounting for the growth in GSDP (approximately 6.6 per cent), there actually is only around 5 per cent increase in the allocations over the previous year.

In education, there is a decline in the allocations in terms of percentage to the total budget in School and Mass Education (from 12.28 in 2017-18 RE to 12.1 in 2018-19 BE).

When the government is clamouring for 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.

The analysis notes that the 71st round 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 percentage of total budget, it has gone down from 5.44 per cent in 2016-17(Actual) to 5.08 in 2018-19 (BE).

“The budget does 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 former finance minister Panchanan Kanungo.

He also expressed his concern over the debt dependency of this budget by an amount of around Rs 20,000 crores. Dr Sarit Rout, expert from Public Health Foundation of India, focused on specific provisions in the health sector.