14th Finance Commission: Gender Issues: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - February 2014


Gender Budgeting is a powerful tool for achieving gender mainstreaming so as to ensure that benefits of development reach women as much as men. It is not an accounting exercise but an ongoing process of keeping a gender perspective in policy/ programme formulation, its implementation and review. GB entails dissection of the Government budgets to establish its gender differential impacts and to ensure that gender commitments are translated in to budgetary commitments.

The rationale for gender budgeting arises from recognition of the fact that national budgets impact men and women differently through the pattern of resource allocation. Women, constitute 48% of India’s population, but they lag behind men on many social indicators like health, education, economic opportunities, etc. Hence, they warrant special attention due to their vulnerability and lack of access to resources. The way Government budgets allocate resources, has the potential to transform these gender inequalities. In view of this, Gender Budgeting, as a tool for achieving gender mainstreaming, has been propagated.

With its report due late next year which will determine centre state ûscal relationships for the period 2015-20 the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) has its work mapped out. Such are the recommendations of the ûnance commissions (FCs) that generally most of them are accepted by the union government. Hence, any development agenda that needs to be pushed should be brought out at this stage for incorporation in the recommendations of the FFC. One such agenda relates to gender issues. Over the last decade, through the medium of the union and state budgets, the principle of viewing government programmes and policies from a gender lens has been well entrenched.

Most budgets reûect a gender budget statement which also indicates certain programmes and policies for women. Government departments have constituted gender budgeting cells to run through programmes from a gender lens prior to their formalization and some new schemes have successfully incorporated within them a gender component, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) being a case in point. In fact, since its very recent introduction into the Indian public ûnance system, gender budgeting can be said to have been institutionalized, albeit there are improvements that can be built into it. The impact analysis of gender budgeting is however yet to be studied in û ne detail.

Therefore, with the FFC, a new thrust can be given by establishing linkages within the devolution pattern and also the factors that can determine the same. FCs share resources between the centre and the states through recommending a share in the union tax revenues and by grants-inaid to states. The Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC) envisaged a transfer of Rs 3, 18,581 crore to various states over its award period as grantsin- aid and a devolution of 32% as share of the states from the shareable pool of resources. Combined, both form a signiû cant chunk of the bud-getary revenues for any state. For 2013-14, for instance, the Haryana government received close to 15% of its resources through the FC mode. Sharing of Union Tax Revenues Governed by Article 280(3) of the Constitution, the share of union tax revenue becomes the most important task of any FC as the share of the states from this pool is the main source of transfer of resources from the centre to it. Being an untied source of revenue, it becomes a clear stream of funding for the states.

Dhruv Nishad

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