New Delhi: Finance minister P. Chidambaram has for the first time included a separate statement for child-related programmes worth Rs37,427 crore in the Budget.
But sector experts say that in terms of actual allocation, children will get only marginally more next fiscal year—4.98 paise out of a rupee spent in the Budget, compared with 4.85 paise allocated in fiscal 2008.
While the 2007-08 budget promised to allocate Rs32,958 crore, actual utilization of funds was much lower, and the government ended up spending only 4.42 paise. The fiscal 2007 Budget was meant to spend 4.90 paise for children in keeping with its focus on social sectors, but managed to spend only 4.67 paise.
Some 13.4 million children are out of school, and more than 62 out of every 100 school-going children drop out by Class X, says the 2006 report of the ministry of human resources development.
Most of these children end up working—making India home to the highest number of working children. One in five child deaths in the world is in India.
HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, a New Delhi-based non-profit organization working on child welfare, has looked at children’s share in central Budgets since 1990-91. Enakshi Ganguly, Haq’s executive director, said, “the government had promised to start child budgeting on 26 October 2005, as a part of the National Action Plan for the Child. I’m glad that it’s finally been done.”
Although planned expenditure on children in Budget 2008 is higher, allocation to plans continue to be skewed towards education, neglecting other areas such as health and protection. “Allocation to child health has fallen from 0.268% to 0.244%,” said Ganguly, who met Chidambaram before the Budget,. “The only rise is in the allocation to the Integrated Child Development Scheme, owing to higher staff salaries.”
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme, announced in the last Budget but not taken up for inadequate funds, has got only Rs180 crore. This is against a demand of Rs5,000 crore by the ministry of women and child development for five years. “This is not enough to meet basic needs under the juvenile justice law,” Ganguly added.
RBI employees plan strike on 12 March
Kolkata: The All India Reserve Bank Employees’ Association (AIRBEA) has decided to go on a strike on 12 March demanding the recruitment of new staff, while seeking a halt to the outsourcing of important central banking functions.
Announcing the decision to strike work , which is likely to affect banking operations throughout the country, AIRBEA general secretary Samir Ghosh claimed the central bank was severely under-staffed. He said recruitment should be made immediately instead of the bank opting for outsourcing.
He also demanded the opening of full-fledged Reserve Bank of India (RBI) offices in all state capitals.
Stating that there has been a ban on recruitment of base level cadres for almost a decade and a half, Ghosh claimed the shortage was “having serious impact on the country’s banking system and economy.”
“The total strength of the assistants cadre, the main operational cadre in the bank, has been reduced from 19,000 in 1995 to less than 6,000 now,” Ghosh said in a statement.
He claimed that to offset the shortage of staff, RBI was outsourcing its jobs at random.
‘UK scam could be linked to LTTE funding’
London: With an international credit card cloning scam unearthed in the UK, a British member of Parliament (MP) has said supporters of LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) could be behind the scam to raise funds for rebels waging a war for a separate state in Sri Lanka.
“It has been suggested to me that some of the money may have found its way to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka possibly to fund,” Conservative Party MP Andrew Selous told the House of Commons.
Selous said his wife was also a victim of the scam as £1,000 were stolen from her account. “My wife had £1,000 pounds stolen in four or five withdrawals from cash points in New York in early January this year,” he said.
An international credit card cloning scam was unearthed in UK in which thousands of pounds in bank accounts of British people were allegedly siphoned off from foreign locations including India. Selous said Canadian police had confirmed that two Londoners and their two Canadian accomplices were arrested in early February with thousands of skimmed British credit cards in Toronto.
Nokia Siemens, TCS in ‘multi-million euro’ pact
Oslo: The world’s second-biggest maker of wireless networks, Nokia Siemens Networks, said it has reached a “multi-million euro” accord with Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS).
The agreement is to transfer product engineering and research and development services as well as parts of the operations and business software unit from Nokia Siemens Networks to TCS, Nokia Siemens said in an e-mailed statement from Dusseldorf .
The services and units being reassigned belong to the Nokia Siemens Networks development centre in Dusseldorf, including 90 employees who will be transferred to TCS.
HUDA developing new sectors in towns, cities
Chandigarh: The Haryana Urban Development Agency (Huda) said it is developing new sectors in the cities and townships of Jhajjar, Jind, Hisar, Sirsa, Kaithal, Rohtak, Rewari, Sonepat, Fatehabad, Guhla-Cheeka, Karnal and Pataudi, especially for the benefit of ex-servicemen.
The allotment of land at highly concessional rates for the benefit of ex-servicemen had been made by Huda at Faridabad, Rewari, Jind, Narnaul, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal, Sonepat, Rohak, Panipat and Jhajjar, an official spokesman said here.
Lanxess AG open to global acquisitions
Mumbai: Germany-based speciality chemicals group, Lanxess AG, on Sunday said it is open to acquisitions in India and abroad to spur its growth.
“We are looking at both organic and inorganic growth globally, so we would not exclude India. The company will continue its growth strategy and will invest in new projects wherever there are promising business opportunities in India,” Lanxess India Pvt. Ltd managing director Joerg Strassburger said.
In India, Lanxess AG is relocating its new rubber chemicals facility from Thane in Maharashtra to Jhagadia in Gujarat, which is expected to start commercial production by FY10.
“Our new unit at Jhagadia will begin in two years,” he said.
The company is setting up a butyl rubber plant at Jurong in Singapore to cater to the growing demand in Asia.
The plant will have a capacity of up to 100,000 tonnes entailing an investment of €400 million.
Single regulator mooted for technical education
New Delhi: Industry body Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) has proposed an overhaul of the regulatory framework for technical education in India to ensure delivery of quality higher education.
In a paper on “Regulatory Framework for Technical Education”, the chamber has called for dissolution of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and setting up a single regulatory authority, independent of the government, as recommended by the National Knowledge Commission .
“The role of such a regulatory authority should be limited to regulate public, private aided and unaided institutions at the initial stages with ‘minimum prescriptions´ and ‘flexible norms´ to begin with. Further, institutions with credible reputation over a period of 5 years should be given the autonomous status,” the chamber said in a statement.
AICTE has not been able to manage multiple functions to the satisfaction of constituents, and has become virtually synonymous with granting approvals or licenses to a new applicant, Ficci said.
“Consequently, the role of quality assurance of existing institutions through issuing guidelines has taken a back seat,” it said.
Feb sales down 5.4%; Hero Honda cuts prices
Mumbai: India’s top motorbike maker, Hero Honda Motors Ltd, sold 265,431 two-wheelers in February, down 5.4 % a year earlier.
Hero Honda also lowered prices of models by Rs1,000-2,400, it said in a statement at the weekend, following a proposal in the Union Budget to cut excise duty on two- and three-wheelers to 16% from 24%.
While lower prices would draw more buyers, interest rates remained firm and credit was still tight, managing director and chief executive officer Pawan Munjal said. “The basic factors causing the industry slowdown still remain unattended,” he said.
“The credit squeeze continues to adversely impact industry growth, and we still don’t see any indication from the banks and the government of addressing this concern.”
Raise FDI cap in defence to 49%: Assocham
New Delhi: The foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the defence sector needs to be increased to 49% from the current 26% to facilitate the flow of investment and technological know-how, industry body Assocham (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) said.
“It is necessary to be self-reliant in defence production, which could be possible if FDI limit is raised to 49%. This will help India acquire defence technology for its increased arms production and reduce dependence on imports,” the chamber said in a statement.
Since the 1991 Kargil war, India’s arms imports have risen to $25 billion (Rs99,750 crore) and would further rise to $30 billion by 2012.
Govt may exceed FY09 budgeted borrowing
New Delhi: The Union government may borrow more in the next fiscal year than budgeted to provide for potential benefits and pay increases for civil servants, finance minister P. Chidambaram said on Sunday.
The additional revenue will help meet any possible gains in salaries, Chidambaram said in an interview.
The government aims to raise Rs1.45 trillion ($36.3 billion), 7% less than in the current year, he said on 29 February, when presenting the Budget proposals for the year starting 1 April.
The country’s Pay Commission is scheduled to submit its report on government salaries in April. Salary increases following the last pay commission’s recommendations in January 1997 cost the exchequer Rs17,000 crore annually, the government said in 2006.
Chidambaram said the Reserve Bank of India has declined to give so-called statutory liquidity ratio status for bonds to be issued to refining companies as partial compensation for selling fuel below cost.
Govt may brief Parliament on nuclear deal today
New Delhi: Amid continued nudging by the US to conclude the civil nuclear deal at the earliest, the government is expected to spell out its plans on the issue on Monday in Parliament when external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee makes a statement.
Mukherjee, who will be making the statement on “Foreign policy issues,” is expected to speak about the government’s intent on the civil nuclear deal and the progress made in this regard, sources said on Monday. He will indicate the status of the negotiations with the IAEA on the safeguards agreement, which is a key step under the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Negotiators of India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded the fifth round of talks on the safeguards agreement on Thursday and reported “considerable progress” towards the agreed text. It is, however, not clear how far the two sides have been able to resolve the differences over issues such as India’s right to build strategic fuel reserve and acknowledgement of its military nuclear programme by the global atomic watchdog.
The US has been pressing India to conclude the agreement with IAEA at the earliest, with under secretary of state Nicholas Burns setting a March-end deadline for it.
Contending that it was now or never for India to get such a deal, Washington, DC has been maintaining that if the agreement does not come before the US Congress by May-end or early June, it would be difficult to get it passed because of lack of time in the Presidential election year.