Four years of UPA: missed opportunities

Four years of UPA: missed opportunities
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First Published: Thu, May 22 2008. 01 32 AM IST

Updated: Thu, May 22 2008. 01 32 AM IST
National Common Minimum Programme Scorecard
At least 100 days of work in a year at minimum wages for at least one able-bodied person in every rural, urban poor and lower middle-class household
PERFORMANCE National Rural Employment Gaurantee Scheme launched in Feb 2006 in 200 districts; from 2007, expanded to 330 districts; extended to cover all 604 rural districts from April
COMMENT Scheme restricted to rural India but extended to all districts this year, even as a draft CAG report raised concerns over its implementation
Phased hike in public spending on education, to at least 6% of gross domestic product (GDP)
PERFORMANCE Allocation for education up 20% in 2008-09, after a 34.2% increase in 2007-08
COMMENT Public spending on education way below the target, but the UPA took initiative to reserve seats for other backward classes (OBC) candidates in Centrally funded institutions
Raise public spending on health to at least 2-3% of GDP over five years
PERFORMANCE Allocation for health up 15% to Rs16,534 crore
COMMENT Public spending on health short of target, but minister Ambumani Ramadoss stayed in the news for all the wrong reasons
To take all steps to ensure availability of life-saving drugs at reasonable prices
PERFORMANCE Drug prices haven’t dropped though some firms offered to cut margins on some formulations
COMMENT Pharma policy still awaited; ministry sitting on law to punish makers of spurious drugs
To double rural credit within three years and take steps to ease debt burden
PERFORMANCE Rs60,000 crore debt relief package to be implemented by 30 June; rural credit target achieved; loans made available at subsidized 7%
COMMENT A majority of debt-ridden farmers will not benefit from the package as it excludes loans from private moneylenders
To make the RTI Act more progressive, participatory and meaningful
PERFORMANCE Implemented in November 2006, the Right to Information Act replaced the less comprehensive
Freedom of Information Act
COMMENT Ranks among the UPA’s key achievements
To encourage FDI in areas of infrastructure, high technology and exports
PERFORMANCE Foreign investment rules relaxed in sectors such as financial sector, telecom and civil aviation
COMMENT Inflows have increased significantly over the past three years
To eliminate revenue deficit by 2009; release more resources for social and physical infrastructure
PERFORMANCE FY09 revenue deficit pegged at 1% of GDP; finance minister cited education, health and social sector spending to defer revenue deficit elimination by a year
COMMENT The Budget speech admitted deficits had been understated in line with past practice and indicated the 13th Finance Commission would be asked to come up with a new road map
To set up a national commission to examine problems faced by unorganized, informal sector
PERFORMANCE The Bill was tabled last year, but it did not come up for onsideration even in Budget session
COMMENT Serious differences between the Congress and the Left parties continue to stall this important legislation
To review the Electricity Act, 2003; bigger role for private generation of power and, more importantly, distribution
PERFORMANCE Private participation in the sector up, even as distribution still reels under losses
COMMENT Distribution reforms remain stuck with around 31% aggregate technical, commercial losses
To introduce value-added tax (VAT); initiate measures to raise tax-GDP ratio by expanding taxpayer base
PERFORMANCE VAT implemented across the country; tax: GDP ratio on the rise
COMMENT With Uttar Pradesh the last to join in, FM achieved completion of a key initiative
To strengthen PDS, particularly in country’s poorest and backward blocks
PERFORMANCE The UPA’s outside supporters have been protesting alleged cuts in public distribution system (PDS) allocation
COMMENT With PDS in shambles, the UPA’s target voter, the ‘aam aadmi’ or common citizen, is reeling under rising prices
To effectively control rise in prices of essential commodities
PERFORMANCE Prices have risen manifold, reflected in inflation indices, especially the Consumer Price Index
COMMENT The UPA’s key failure, believed to be mainly responsible for Congress’ electoral defeats
To introduce a legislation reserving one-third of seats in state assemblies and Lok Sabha for women
PERFORMANCE A Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of Budget session
COMMENT Key ally Rashtriya Janata Dal, among other parties representing OBCs, has vowed to stall this legislation
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First Published: Thu, May 22 2008. 01 32 AM IST