New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should focus on education, hygiene, woman safety, nutrition of infants in the forthcoming budget, suggested social sector experts in their pre-budget meeting.
They also asked the minister to levy higher taxation on sweetened and salted products, rationalise taxes on medical devices, and earmark funds for healthcare infrastructure, and providing free drugs as well as diagnostic facilities.
Sitharaman, in her opening remarks, said that the present government is committed to improve the educational standards, skilling the youth, enhancing job opportunities, reducing disease burden, empowering women and improving human development in order to have an inclusive development.
The main areas of discussion included issues relating to health, education, social protection, pensions and human development.
The stakeholders of social sector gave suggestions like focus on education and hygiene particularly for rural women, audit of cities to identify security gaps to strengthen women safety, increased budgetary allocation towards nutrition of infants, full operationalisation of one-stop centres for women in all districts, a finance ministry statement said.
They also suggested expansion of healthcare infrastructure, provision of free drugs and diagnostic facilities, rationalisation of taxes on medical devices, promotion of Public Private Partnership in secondary and tertiary healthcare sectors, fiscal incentives for recycling of waste water and rainwater harvesting, among others.
National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma, Centre for Policy Research President Yamini Aiyer, Helpage India Chief Operating Officer Rohit Prasad, and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Priyanka Kanoongo attended the meeting.