HRD Minister Arjun Singh has suggested that the ambit of education cess should be increased to achieve the target of six per cent Gross Domestic Product as per National Common Minimum Programme.
Singh wants that the six per cent target should be gradually achieved in 2009-10 financial year. The Planning Commission, which has been tasked by the Prime Minister’s Office to work out a fund allocation plan, believes that it may not be possible within the timeframe suggested by Singh.
In a recent letter written to PM, Singh made a strong case for increase in allocation and asked for more than 100 per cent increase in allocation for education during 11th plan to meet the six per cent GDP.
As against one lakh crore allocated in 2004-05, the HRD ministry wants Rs 2.27 lakh crores to meet the NCMP target of universalisation of education. The huge gap in demand and allocation can be bridged by higher education cess on central taxes, he said.
Singh has also sought re-working of outlay share between the Centre and the State. The Centre provides only 20 per cent, while remaining comes from the states’ exchequer.
Hinting at increasing the Central allocation, Singh suggested discussing the issue in the National Development Council. “The manner in which the additional funds should be shared needs to be worked out,” he said.
Singh has also expressed his unhappiness with funds allocation for secondary and higher education. In a note forwarded to PMO, Singh has accused Planning Commission of allocating only 45 per cent of the amount that was sought. “Even the entire money allocated in the 10th Plan was not given to us,” he complained.
Planning Commission officials, however, ruled out additional funds for higher education. “The money will be provided as per Moilly Committee recommendations,” an official said. This mean that higher education will get about Rs 18,000 crore more in the next five years.
Referring to Tapan Majumdar Committee report on meeting NCMP commitment on education, Singh said, the committee has given different models for achieving the GDP targets, which the commission can consider.