Gender Budgeting makes debut in Assam

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Guwahati, Mar 10 (UNI) Gender Budgeting, which is fast emerging as an important component of budgets in India, including the Union Budget, made its debut in Assam today.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who also holds the Finance portfolio, while laying the state budget for 2008-09 announced the introduction of gender budgeting from the coming fiscal.

The Opposition legislators, while welcoming the move, sounded cautious on the proper implementation of the provisions and stressed the need for proper monitoring.

Mr Gogoi informed that 12 department having schemes with 100 per cent funds earmarked for the benefit of women will be taking up the exercise in its debut year.

A total of Rs 20,781.15 lakh has been estimated under both plan and non-plan heads under gender budgeting, with the major chunk of Rs 13,660.04 lakh provided under the Centrally-sponsored Cooked Mid-day meal scheme.

The highest percentage of beneficiaries would be under the Education department (Elementary and Secondary).

Over 21,000 girls would be awarded merit scholarships, while another more than 16,000 girls in the age group of 6-14 years would receive incentives.

Another 27 lakh women would benefit under the Cooked Mid-day meal scheme, also included under Gender Budgeting.

Cent per cent women beneficiary schemes include Women Studies Centre under Cultural Affairs department, ANM nurse under Health department, strengthening of Mahila Mandal under Rural and RD department.

The Social Welfare department is another department with major allocation under gender budgeting, with a total amount of Rs 1,088.58 lakh.

The Handloom and Textiles department has also received much importance, with close to 4,000 women weavers likely to be benefited under it.

Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, welcoming the initiative, said much of the amount allocated under gender budgeting is from Centrally-sponsored schemes.

He said, ''The state government should come up with more schemes of its own to really help the women, especially in rural areas.'' Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Girindra Barua pointed that success of the gender budgeting would lie in proper utilization of the funds.

Gender budgeting should not be only theoretical, it must have practical ramifications, Mr Barua added.

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