All posts tagged National Advisory Council
Posted by kracktivist on May 18, 2013
For all the talk of the United Progressive Alliance government about the seminal step the proposed National Food Security Bill will be in eradicating hunger and malnutrition, Finance Minister P Chidambaram‘s budgetary allocation for it is paltry. In his Budget speech , the Finance Minister said he was setting aside an extra Rs 10,000 crore, apart from the usual provision for food subsidy, toward the “incremental cost” likely once the legislation is passed.
How much has Chidambaram provided? Part two of the Expenditure Budget documents shows it is Rs 90,000 crore. The document clarifies: “The provision of Rs 90,000 core for food subsidy also includes a provision of Rs 10,000 crore for implementing the National Food Security Act.”
How much was the food subsidy envisioned in the last Budget (2012/13) for the current financial year? It was Rs 75,000 crore, and the revised estimate was above Rs 85,000. But this estimate – as the government itself has said – was based on population numbers of year 2000. Had this figure been updated to the 2011 census, the food subsidy would have been above Rs 1,10,000 crore (as per Food Ministry’s estimates).
And, if the 2011 census figures are used to estimate the food subsidy bill for 2013/14, it rises, by the food ministry’s own calculations, to Rs 124,000 crore – even without the Food Security Bill becoming law. If it is passed the subsidy will be even higher. Of course, all these estimates are based on the Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011.
So how does Chidambaram’s allocation of Rs 90,000 crore amount to an additional outlay? “I don’t know the Bill yet,” said Chidambaram at his press conference after the Budget announcement. “There is no Food Security Bill at the moment. We only have the Standing Committee’s report on an earlier version of the Bill. It is only when the (revised) Bill is presented to the Cabinet, that we can do an assessment of its cost. I cannot put a number today. However, in anticipation that a Bill will carry an incremental cost, I have provided Rs 10,000 crore.”
But he should have had an idea. The estimates of the food ministry, based on the original provisions of the Bill, are public knowledge. The original bill intended to include up to three-fourths of the rural population and half the urban population as beneficiaries, with 46 per cent of the former and 28 per cent of the latter being ‘priority households’, which would be entitled to seven kilos of foodgrain per person per month, at prices of one rupee per kg for coarse grain, two rupees for wheat and three rupees for rice. (Distinct from them would be the ‘general households’, which would get three kilos or less at half the price the government paid farmers to procure the grain.) The ministry estimated the subsidy at Rs 1,26,000 crore a year.
How can Rs 90,000 crore then be called an enhanced allocation? “This is a big letdown,” said N.C. Saxena, member of the Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council (NAC). “The meagre Rs. 10,000 crore set aside for the implementation of the Food Security bill not only implies the lack of urgency on the government’s part to enact it but also the gross underestimation of the additional resources required,” says Subrat Das, Executive Director, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability.
Examining the original Bill,the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution has recommended removing the distinction between priority and general households, among other things. But no final decision has been taken. Whatever is decided, however, even if the final cost is less than Rs 126,000 crore, it certainly will be much more than what the finance minister has provided for. He certainly will have to loosen his wallet or the outcome could well be a diluted Bill, hardly serving the noble intent.
Posted by kracktivist on March 3, 2013
The withdrawal of amendments would mean it would be possible for the citizens to ask for information related to file notings, except on issues about national security, privacy and protection of commercial interest. The amendments had sought to restrict disclosure of file notings only to social and developmental issues.
Posted by kracktivist on November 1, 2012
Dear Prime Minister,
We urge you to reconsider the decision to supply uranium to India. This uranium will fuel the massive expansion of nuclear power programme that the Indian government is undemocratically pushing on poor people of India, criminally overlooking the concerns of safety, environment, livelihoods of surrounding populations and the financial implications.
Supplying uranium to India also amounts to legitimizing its status as a nuclear weapons state. At a time when people’s aspirations for comprehensive nuclear disarmament have heightened globally, any such dilution of disarmament norms would be unfortunate.
As the struggles of common people, farmers, fisherfolk, women and children in places like Koodankulam, Jaitapur(Maharashtra), Mithivirdi (Gujaratat), Fatehabad (Haryana), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh) etc have highlighted, the nuclear expansion is in no way helping the poor, as it was claimed by you while reversing the Australian Labour Party’s policy of not supplying uranium to India. In fact, under the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Indian elite offered the lives and livelihoods of its poor people, India’s huge consumer market and rehabilitating global nuclear corporates in return for an elusive seat on the nuclear high table.
In Koodankulam 2 fishermen have died recently in a brutal police repression while large numbers of protesters are languishing in jail. Charges of sedition and ‘war against the Indian state’ have been leveled against thousands of non-violent protesters in past few months. In the pursuit of this nuclear insanity, the government has brushed aside the voices of its own secretaries, the Chief Information Commissioner, members of the National Advisory Council and voices of independent experts and eminent citizens. We reiterate our demand to drop all fictitious charges against the Koodankulam protesters and initiate a broad-based public consultation on nuclear energy.
Parliamentarians from UK and Australia, human rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, and citizens groups from more than 165 countries have condemned the police brutalities on the anti-nuclear protesters in India. We urge you to take a principled stand and reconsider supplying fuel to the Indian government’s nuclear insanity.
Admiral L. Ramdas
N D Jayaprakash
Posted by kracktivist on October 23, 2012
New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) The National Advisory Council, chaired by Sonia Gandhi, has recommended giving tax benefits to private employers of persons with disabilities, in a set of measures to enable their greater participation in the workforce.
Giving its suggestions on the draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (RPDB), the NAC has also suggested extending subsidies and financial incentives for starting small scale income generation activities by household of persons with disabilities (PWD).
“RPDB should also mandate support to families with PWDs themselves in engaging in or accessing gainful employment, including financial and tax benefits to private employers of PWDs,” the advisory panel said in a recent communication to the government.
It has pitched for stronger anti-discrimination provisions to lower barriers to their productive employment, thus enabling greater participation of PWD in the workforce.
Voicing concern over non-recognition of full legal capacity of PWDS, the NAC has recommended that the Law Ministry review all statutes in order to include an acknowledgement of full legal capacity for such persons.
Noting that there were multiple laws that provide and protect the rights of PWDs, the NAC has suggested merging them into one holistic law to avoid inconsistencies and duplication.
At present the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act; National Mental Health Act; Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act; and The Rehabilitation Council of India Act govern issues related to PWDs.
The NAC also recommended that families with disabled members should be given higher weightage during identification of poor households and surveys for BPL and food insecure households.
It also wanted the RPDB to guarantee preferential access to households with PWDs to all poverty alleviation and social security programmes, including social security allowance.
The panel also suggested setting up a single National Disablities Commission and State Disability Commission to replace diverse institutions concerned with the rights of PWDs.
“This would save costs, prevent the creation of a large bureaucracy, and above all provide a single window of contact at the central, state or district level for PWDs to access their rights and secure redressal of their grievances,” it said.
The NAC also found “grave” the provision of upto six months imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine for persons violating the rights of PWDs.
“The penalties needs to be more specific and cannot be for blanket violation of all entitlements under the bills,” the advisory panel said.
Posted by kracktivist on June 11, 2012