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Photo: Mint

Social sector expenditure as portion of GDP grows at a snail pace: Eco Survey

  • The social sector expenditure has grown just 7.7% of the GDP between 2015 and 2019, economic survey says
  • Of the total 7.7% GDP expenditure, 3.1% went to education, 1.6% to healthcare and rest to other social service segments

NEW DELHI : India’s social sector expenditure has grown in snail pace with just 7.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) going to the sector that encompasses crucial areas like education, public health, sanitation, labour welfare among others, data shared in the economic survey 2019-20 showed Friday.

Trends in Social Service Sector Expenditure by both centre and states at 7.7% of the GDP comes as a 1.1 percentage point between 2015 and 2019, the survey said even if it underlined that social sector spending has a “profound impact" on India’s “demographic advantage of a large young population in the productive age group".

Of the total 7.7% GDP expenditure, 3.1% went to education, 1.6% to health sector and rest to other social service segments including housing, urban development, welfare of SCs, STs and OBCs, labour welfare, social security, nutrition and relief on account of natural calamities.

While, education experts and administrators have been demanding to increase education expenditure to 6% of the GDP for last decades, the National Health Policy 2017 had advocated spending 2.5% of the GDP on healthcare alone. The education expenditure has growth to 3.1% of GDP in 2019 from 2.8% in 2014. Similarly, the health sector expenditure grew from 1.2% of the GDP in 2014 to 1.6% in 2019.

The survey said the gross enrolment ratio at secondary, higher secondary and higher education level needs to be improved to reap demographic advantage. It further said that the gender disparity in India’s labour market widened due to decline in female labour force participation especially in rural areas and around 60% of women in the productive age group (15-59) are engaged in full time domestic duties.

The recent global human development index ranked India at 129 among 189 countries underlining why the country must invest more in the social sector if it seeks to gain from its demographic bulge.

Even while it showed the slow pace of social sector expenditure in India, the economic survey counted several central government schemes in public health, education and sanitation that it argued is helping the common people across the socio-economic ladder.

“Some of the milestones to be achieved in this journey are access to electricity, a clean cooking facility, and housing for all by 2022. Imparting the required skills and creating enabling environment for employment generation are important priorities," the survey added.

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