Women and Child Welfare Minister Renuka Chowdhury may be the government’s face when it comes to women issues, but she fares poorly in spending money meant for them.
Her Cabinet colleagues have done better on account of gender budgeting, according to the numbers in the interim budget, unveiled on Monday.
While overall spending on fully women-centric programmes is estimated to total Rs 14,875 crore in 2008-09, about 30 per cent more than what was budgeted, the women and child welfare ministry is expected to spend about half the money that was allocated for the year. This year, the ministry is expected to spend only Rs 267 crore of the Rs 466.50 crore that was earmarked for fully women-focused schemes.
What is worrying is that the Swamyamsiddha scheme is expected to use only a quarter, or Rs 50 crore, of the Rs 200 crore that was budgeted for it. The scheme funds and aids women self-help groups and entrepreneurs. “Under its second phase, a countrywide programme covering all blocks was to be launched,” said Yamini Mishra of the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability.
Ministry officials were not available for comments.
The government’s gender budget statement — an exercise that the women and child welfare ministry has been pushing for — shows that other ministries have done better. The social justice and empowerment ministry is expected to spend Rs 646.17 crore on women schemes, almost double the amount it was allocated.