The ambit of the education cess on central taxes should be increased to meet the National Common Minimum Programme's target of allocating six per cent of the GDP to the education sector, HRD Minister Arjun Singh said.
In a letter he recently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Arjun Singh made a case for an over 100 per cent increase in allocation to the education sector during the 11th Plan to meet the six per cent target for the universalisation of education. As against Rs 1 lakh crore allocated in 2004-05, the HRD Ministry wants Rs 2.27 lakh crore.
The gap in demand and allocation could be bridged by increasing the education cess on central taxes, he wrote. He wants the six per cent target to be achieved in 2009-10. But the Planning Commission, which has been asked by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to work out a fund-allocation plan, thinks it may not be possible within the time frame suggested by the minister.
Arjun Singh has also sought a reworking of the outlay share between the Centre and the states. Currently, the Centre provides 20 per cent of the money for education while the state exchequers give the rest.
The minister expressed his unhappiness with the allocation of funds for secondary and higher education. He accused the 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. But Planning Commission officials ruled out additional funds for higher education. "The money will be provided as per the Moily Committee recommendations," an official said.