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Lauding India, IMF calls for budgeting to bridge gender gap

business Updated: Aug 10, 2016 13:40 IST
Timsy Jaipuria

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Beijing, in July.(AP)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on governments to incorporate pro-women fiscal measures in budgets, so as to bridge the gender gap.

In its first-ever global review of the use of tax and spending policies to promote gender equality, IMF has found that financial policies in Union and state budgets have helped gender parity.

Highlighting changes across 80 countries, the IMF study, Tackling Gender Inequality, says fiscal policy efforts were seen making a “promising” difference in promoting gender equality in India, with noticeable success in Kerala at the decentralised level.

The global body says India should consider basing its fiscal policies on “gender criteria”.

Hailing the decision to include climate change under the terms of reference of the Fourteenth Finance Commission, the IMF Asia review asks that if climate change can be part of fiscal devolution to share the divisible tax pool of central revenues with states, why can the same not apply to gender criteria?

“Scholars have been debating this issue and we hope next Finance Commission will take it up,” IMF said.

Though the survey does not rank countries based on ‘gender budgeting’, it says India’s position on the Gender Development Index, which depicts how countries are reducing the gender gap, has clearly improved. “In terms of gender budgeting, India stands out,” it said.

The review said India, Rwanda, Korea — and within India, Kerala — are examples of successful gender budgeting. “Korea has gone one step ahead by incorporating it in its national finance law, 2006,” it said.

As per the study, the intergovernmental fiscal transfers or state-level policy measures in redressing gender inequality have started playing an effective and crucial role.

Kerala is doing well as the finance minister has designed many innovative “gender in infrastructure” projects, the review said. Kerala finance ministry’s innovative projects have “demystified the notion that public expenditure related to infrastructure investment is gender neutral,” it added.