August 18, 2010

Right to Health, Right to Food next on agenda: Finance Minister

Emphasising the Congress's commitment towards “inclusive growth,” Union Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee said here on Sunday that after enacting laws on the Right to Information, the Right to Education and providing 100 days employment, the Centre would take steps to ensure the Right to Health and the Right to Food for all citizens.

“The government will provide 25 kg of rice or wheat at a predetermined price of Rs.3 per kg, irrespective of what the market prices are,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Mr. Mukherjee said Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Kapil Sibal had estimated that Rs.2.31-lakh crore would be required over the next three years to implement the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The funds would be directed towards building of schools, appointment of teachers and providing infrastructure, he said.

“I will be in a position to give the HRD Minister the required funds,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Economic growth

He said that spending on measures such as the Rs.70,000-crore waiver of loans for farmers and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act would not have been possible without the recent growth witnessed in the economy. “I was the Finance Minister in 1982 as well, but at that time I could not have done this,” he said.

“In my Rs.11-lakh crore budget, apart from the committed liabilities, the biggest allocation of Rs.3.73-lakh crore is on planning,” Mr. Mukherjee said, adding that investment had been made on rural infrastructure and social and health sector.

He was addressing a seminar on “Vision of Inclusive Growth and the Evolution of Indian Economic Policy” organised as a part of the celebrations of 125 years of the Indian National Congress.

“The Indian economic policy has flexibility and that flexibility has been provided by the Indian National Congress,” Mr. Mukherjee said, asserting that “the Congress was never a dogmatic party.”

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