The Budget lacks the ‘power’ to transform services

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Relevance: Understanding the need for energy for the improvement of the health and education sector.

News: Budget 2022-23 demonstrates a clear intent to prioritise investments in clean energy and sustainable development, in line with the country’s promises made at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

What does the budget proposed for the health and education sector?

Health sector: The sector witnessed a 16% increase in estimated Budget allocations from last year, medical and public health spending was reduced by 45% for 2022-23.

Education sector: The sector witnessed an 11.86% increase in allocations. Despite the push for digital education, last year’s revised allocation saw a reduction of 35%. Despite these increases in estimates, health and education continue to share only about 2% each of budgetary allocations annually.

Read here: Budget disappoints on healthcare
Why the role of electric supply is important for education and health services?

Availability of reliable electricity supply helps in efficient delivery of health and education services. 74% of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked with universal access to reliable energy. Despite this, 44% of schools and 25% of India’s health sub-centres and primary health centres remain unelectrified.

The lack of integration of electrification requirements in development sector policy documents may be partly due to a lack of information about electricity and development linkages, poor coordination mechanisms between the sectors and departments, and poor access to appropriate finance.

What should be done to solve the problem?

Integration of multiple policies: It is required to achieve the larger sectoral objectives. For example, Assam lays out its Energy Vision document in conjunction with the Solar Energy Policy 2017. To successfully integrate electricity provisioning and maintenance, policy frameworks should include innovative coordination and financing mechanisms.

Local decision-makers should also be given some authority to address the local needs and mitigate policy implementation barriers.

Read here: A clean energy plan for India

Remove unnecessary burden: Providing reliable electricity for health centres and schools should be the responsibility of centralised decision-making entities at the State or national level.

Allocation of funds: Integrative policies are insufficient to achieve intended developmental outcomes. For policies to become transformative, instruments that operationalise them should be put in place.

For this, the allocation of funds should set up a robust data governance mechanism, as it is critical for integrative action and evidence-based policymaking.

Source: This post is based on the article “The Budget lacks the ‘power’ to transform services” published in The Hindu on 24th February 2022.

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