Union Budget 2012– Focus on Skills Development and Infrastructure

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    By: G.S. Oinam
    This time, Union Budget 2012 shall not left Manipur in lurch. Once the Information and Knowledge Management project is successful, our long demand for removal of AFSPA will go from Manipur phase wise. Beside, we shall not ignore the problem faced by the women and children. Special scheme has to be introduced immediately to facilitate women in conflict states specially widows and lower income groups.

    Before highlighting pre-budget discussion of Union Budget-2012 to be presented on 16th March, know about the man who will be presenting Union Budget-2012!

    76 years old Congress leader Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Union finance Minister was rated as the ‘Finance Minister of the Year for Asia 2010’, by London-based magazine ‘Emerging Markets’. The title was awarded to him for his “ability to steer the Indian economy through the global financial crisis and balancing growth with fiscal responsibility.” In 1984, Pranab Mukherjee was rated as the ‘Best Finance Minister in the World’ by ‘Euro money’ magazine. Pranab Mukherjee will present the Budget for seventh time in history, thus becoming the Finance Minister to have made third highest number of budget speeches.

    Pranab Mukherjee was born on 11 December 1935 in a small village, Mirati of Birbhum District in West Bengal. He is a son of Shri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, a respected freedom fighter spent more than 10 years in British jails.  His parliamentary career was begun as a Rajya Sabha member from Congress Party in 1969. In 1997 Pranab Mukherjee was voted Outstanding Parliamentarian. Active in West Bengal politics, he was the president of the state’s unit of Congress since 1985, but resigned in July 2010. Well-respected by politicians of all parties, Pranab Mukherjee is the Congress party’s main troubleshooter and has often been called upon to guide the party through difficult situations. He is married, and has two sons and one daughter. His children are all good “like father like son!”

    The UPA wants to unleash a new approach to skills development in its penultimate Budget before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But there is a hitch in announcing the new skills framework to make youth more employable by training 500 million people over the next decade. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has asked Tata Consultancy Services vice-chairman S Ramadorai to urgently untangle the crosshairs between the two ministries (HRD and Labour) so that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s Budget speech can make a clear statement about the UPA`s `Big Idea` for developing skills. Ramadorai is the skills advisor to the Prime Minister and holds the rank of a Cabinet minister. Singh stepped into the imbroglio over skills development, a subject close to his heart, at a meeting in late February where it was pointed out that no country has two departments evolving independent frameworks on the same subject. Ramadorai`s intervention is expected to begin with a meeting early this week with top officials from the two ministries along with Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav.

    With a view to overcome the shortage of skilled manpower in the Indian gems and jewellery industry, NSDC, co-promoted by the Union finance ministry with the mandate of involving the private sector in training people, has identified 21 sectors for which 150 million people will be trained by 2022 and gems and jewellery is one of the focused segments.

    The healthcare industry in partnership with the government plans to train as many as 4.8 million skilled healthcare-allied workers over the next 10 years to fill the industry`s massive manpower shortage.

    The initiative will be executed through Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC), an industry body that will be run by a 15-member governing group comprising representatives of healthcare industry, members of Medical Council of India, Nursing Council, Quality council of India and Health ministry, among others. Corporate hospitals, small private clinics and existing medical colleges can provide training once they are registered with the council, which will also certify the courses. The council is in the process of finalizing the curriculum and appointing a full time CEO. These trained people will be eligible to work at both government and private hospitals.

    To begin with, the council has proposed eight courses, which have been identified after a detailed review and feedback from the industry requirements and the skills needed to be employable. These are nursing assistants, auxiliary nursing midwives, emergency technicians, ECG technicians, radiology technicians, laboratory technicians, dialysis technicians and special assistants for elderly patients.

    At present, the $65 billion domestic healthcare industry is growing at around 20% a year and according to ratings agency Fitch, the Indian healthcare sector will swell to $100 billion by 2015. But the industry faces acute shortage of skilled manpower, which the industry believes will be a constraint to growth.

    According to Reddy, the country needs to quadruple the number of such allied medical services workers to 10 million from 2.5 million currently to meet the industry`s requirement.

    The programme is part of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a public-private partnership body that plans to train as many as 500 million skilled workers across 30 sectors by 2020. NSDC will also aid the initiative. At present, such technicians are trained by standalone training centers that have their own standards and curriculum, many are not recognized by the authorities and therefore not eligible to work for government healthcare centres. “In most cases, the skill levels are also not adequate,” an industry executive said.

    Skype, biometrics, M-health (use of mobile phones) and E-health are all set to make an entry into India`s primary health centres (PHCs) and sub-centres as the health ministry plans to go hi-tech. The steering committee on health said that in the 12th plan (2012-17), all district hospitals would be linked to leading tertiary care centres through telemedicine, Skype and similar audio visual media. M-health will be used to speed up transmission of data.

    India will also put in place a Citizen Health Information System (CHIS) – a biometric based health information system which will constantly update health record of every citizen-family. The system will incorporate registration of births, deaths and cause of death. Maternal and infant death reviews, nutrition surveillance, particularly among under-six children and women, service delivery in the public health system, hospital information service besides improving access of public to their own health information and medical records would be the primary function of the CHIS.

    The ministry plans to give a big push to support telemedicine services in primary, secondary and tertiary care. Disease surveillance based on reporting by providers and clinical laboratories (public and private) to detect and act on disease outbreaks and epidemics would be an integral component of the system.

    “The system will also support financial management – from resource allocation, resource transfers, accounting and utilization to financial services like making of payments to facilities, providers and beneficiaries. It will provide a platform for continuing medical education and support regulatory functions of the state by creating a nation-wide registration of clinical establishments, manufacturing units, drug testing laboratories, licensing of drugs, approval of clinical trials,” the document added.

    Beside, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee may move to boost infrastructure in the Budget. To allow tax free bonds of at least Rs 50,000 crore by government undertakings like NHAI, HUDCO & ports.

    Budget Expectations- check out what women want: As woman we have lot of expectations from life, (God has made us like that, capable of expecting & delivering), so why not add some more to our wish list.  Like, as this is exam time, we expect a lot from our children, Appraisal time, so lot of expectations from boss, Anniversary time, so lot of expectation from husband and budget time so lot of expectations from Finance Minister, Bienu Vaghela, Chief Editor, Apnapaisa said.

    We just celebrated International Women`s Day on March 8, but the hangover still persists, particularly when the issue is of reaching out to Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who is just few days away from presenting the Union. This Woman`s day, as a woman I would request Finance Minister to consider slashing duties from branded cosmetics as it will motivate us to be well turned out in office. It will in deed a pleasure if the duties are reduced to minimum on food and beverages so that healthy and cheap food is accessible to millions of Indian homes Budget. We as women love to dress our children, ourselves, so duty on apparel to be drastically reduced to make them more affordable. As they are really expensive which is a big dampener as it is eating badly into family’s budget? The prices of apparel should be reasonable so that every home maker is happy to buy them, Ms Bienu Vaghela said.

    Another big expectation and the most important one too, decent pricing for a decent home which will be possible only if duties from steel/ cement are slashed. Also declaring housing under Infrastructure may go a long way in making us realize our dream of owning home of our home.  As a working professional, I would expect that Income Tax slab goes up from present Rs1.80 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh, which will mean more cash in hand to provide better amenities.

    Those who have home loan need some respite too, and that can be granted if standard deduction on home loans goes up from age old Rs1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh.  It`s not that we as women only love to splurge, we love to save too! Finance Minister would surely know that whenever a family faces financial crisis, women of the family comes forward to bail out the family. And they achieve this by the small amounts invested in many small saving instruments from their pin money.

    It will be a great help if interest rates on small saving instruments are increased to ensure better returns. Not only this, this budget should lay thrust on long-term investment and the standard deduction of 80C may be raised to Rs 1.5 lakh. It is also proposed to increase the tax exemption on investments in infrastructure bonds under Section 80CCF from the current Rs 20,000. Hence, instead we home makers cutting our expenditures year after year, we will expect FM to cut expenditure and show much needed financial prudence, Ms Bienu Vaghela concluded.

    Bangalulu Initiatives on Skills:

    Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) will be made as a partner institute in the skill development scheme to provide financial assistance, Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Virbhadra Singh said. There is a need to equip the youth with skills and knowledge for giving them access to productive development,” Singh said. Unveiling a slew of initiatives taken by his Ministry for the development of MSME sector like public procurement policy for SMEs, which mandated 20% reservation for SMEs in all procurements by Government departments and PSUs in addition to a special quota of 4 % earmarked for SC/STs; target of training 1.5 crore persons within 2022 and more than 40 lakh persons during the 12th Five-Year Plan.

    He said the ministry would give free training to SC/STs, women and physically challenged persons along with monthly stipend of Rs 500 per trainee; provision for 15 % capital subsidy on institutional loans upto Rs 1 crore availed by MSMEs under the Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS); providing guarantee cover upto 85 % on collateral-free credit facility extended by lending institutions to new and existing SMEs for loans up to Rs 1 crore.

    The KASSIA School of Business Management, started jointly with ICBMS Educational Trust and Info Career Pvt Ltd would offer Certificate, short-term and long-term courses on soft skills and other skills specifically required by prospective and existing entrepreneurs in multiple languages including English and Kannada and also incorporate e-learning practices.

    KASSIA is coming up with several initiatives for the small scale industry, such as the launch of a dedicated B2B cum Employment Exchange portal called kassia.com by the end of this month. The website would aim at listing at least 5,000 small scale industrial units in the next one year.

    The KASSIA Credit Cooperative Society would shortly expand its outreach and function as a micro finance organization. KASSIA had invested Rs 12-crore in the last 5 years towards infrastructure building and the setting up of a state-of-art world class Industrial Campus at KASSIA Udyog Bhavan. KASSIA had not availed of any funding from the Central Government for this purpose; Raikar said and requested the MSME Minister to release at least Rs 1 crore from the Ministry. He also appealed to the Minister to consider enhancing the limit under CLCSS Scheme to Rs 2 crore from Rs 1 crore and the subsidy limit from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.

    Qualification Frameworks differences between two Ministries:

    The problem between the labour and HRD ministries is that both have developed their own vocational qualification frameworks. While the HRD ministry calls it the national vocational education qualification framework (NVEQF), the labour ministry calls it NVQF. The HRD ministry, which is led by Kapil Sibal, has had several parleys with state education ministers, including one as recently as February 22, and industry bodies for its national qualifications system, which would cover all schools, vocational education and higher education institutions. It would set occupational competency standards that list out major activities and knowledge a worker must possess to perform a task, based on inputs of skills councils for different sectors.

    There are a few other critical differences in approach. The HRD ministry`s vocational courses impart a few hundred hours of training along with the student`s regular classes. With the Right to Education law in place, the ministry is also constrained from including school dropouts in such courses. The labour ministry`s institutes deliver courses that run into thousand hours or more but focus only on the skill sets relevant for a job. They allow school dropouts from even Class V to scale up their skill sets.

    The two ministries also differ on creating equivalence between those who acquire skills from industrial training institutes and those who acquire it from HRD ministry-run formal schools, colleges and polytechnic institutes. While the HRD ministry wants to start vocational courses from Class IX with a training focus on the services sector, the labour ministry`s focus is on both the services and manufacturing sectors.

    As per the government`s allocation of business rules, vocational education refers to such courses being offered in schools and polytechnic institutes, with the HRD ministry entrusted with the overall responsibility. Vocational training comes under labour ministry`s watch and refers to courses offered by separate training institutes such as ITIs

    The labour ministry, led by Mallikarjun Kharge, controls the National Council of Vocational Training (NCVT) and runs over 10,000 industrial training institutes (ITIs) and 6,000 vocational training centres.

    Beside, seventeen different ministries are involved in imparting skills, but primarily in their own sectors. It has an agreement with the World Bank and a Euros 6.5 million pact with the European Commission (EC) for technical assistance to develop its vocational framework in India. The first meeting with EC officials took placed.

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