Mumbai: After analyzing the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s first budget, Jagnyacha Hakkacha Andolan (JHA) stated that the allocation for the social sector in Budget 2020-21 is down to 35.3 per cent of the total expenditure from 36.71 per cent in 2019-20. The state has seen this decline for the last five years.
JHA, a joint platform of non-government organizations, trade unions and groups fighting for the right to life and livelihood, is planning to share the feedback on the budget with the MVA government on the coming Sunday.
Independent Consultant and activist, Ravi Duggal said, “For the last five years, we saw this downward trend and this trend continued in this budget under the new government as well.” According to JHA, around 50 per cent of the budget should be centered around the social sector.
“Investing in the social sector is the only way to bring development and improve the lives of the people,” maintained social activist Ulka Mahajan. The consumption-based Human Development Index (HDI) in Kerala has improved mainly due to their investment in the social sector, stated JHA representative. To improve the lives of people in Maharashtra, the social sector budget needs to be prioritized.
“The way the finance minister calls for meetings with associations/ institutions associated with economic activities, he should
also call NGOs and organizations associated with social activity,” added Mahajan.
Duggal stated that the low revenue collection of the state is the reason for such an imbalance in the budget. “Maharashtra’s Rs 33,815 per capita collection of revenue is quite low in the 2020-21 budget despite being the second richest among major states,” explained Duggal. Hence, to meet this revenue gap, Duggal suggested that the state should levy higher taxes on alcohol, improve revenue collection from mining, collect uncollected taxes and collect Maharashtra’s share of taxes from the centre.
Among other things, Mahajan said, transparency is the need of the hour in the system. “The state budget is not available in the public domain for days. So, analyzing the budget gets difficult. It is important that the new government works towards making the budget available to the public as soon as it is presented in the house.”