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National Fund for Protection of Children may come up in Budget

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Sitharaman gets thumbs up on steps to combat slowdownNew Delhi, Dec 25 (IANS) The general budget in February may make provision for a National Fund for Protection of Children under the child budgeting besides seeing moderate increase in the allocation for the overall women and child development.

The size of the protection fund could be in the corpus of Rs 500-Rs 1000 crore to start with, said sources in the knowledge.

For Children, a few schemes have had seen a significant change — Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, or Aanganwadi services, the mid-day meal scheme for children, and child protection services. In 2019-20 Budget, the allocation for the Child Protection Services programme under the Integrated Child Development Services was increased to Rs 1,500 crore from Rs 925 crore.

During the recent pre-budget consultations, among the many suggestions given by representatives of Health and Education Sectors, apprised the finance ministry of benefits of child budgeting and a dedicated National Fund for protection of children.

Globally key issues addressed under Child Protection are Violations of the child”s rights which act as barriers to child survival and development, poor physical and mental health, infection, educational problems, displacement, homelessness.

In India also child protection funds allocation is there in the Budget.

The total budget provision for the WCD Ministry for 2019-20 stood at Rs 29,165 crore. The government has kept malnutrition as its critical focus area and accordingly the outlay for Umbrella ICDS scheme has been increased by almost Rs 4500 crore.

The Ministry”s focus on protection of children has expanded substantially over the last few years and an ambitious programme has been drawn out. The budget under the Integrated Child Protection Services Scheme has been enhanced from Rs 925 crore to Rs 1500 crore to meet the increased requirements of child protection services from the states which have emerged after effective implementation of the provisions of JJ Act, 2015. This will also provide extra funds for the proposed expansion of Childline.

Child protection, in a climate of overwhelming security concerns, has seen a moderate increase to reach 2.11 per cent of the entire budget for children.

During a pre-Budget meeting, experts in health and education sector had recently asked finance ministry seeking funds in the Budget for eradication of child labour, a policy to encourage healthy food habits with measures like higher taxes on ”sin products”, better compliance with the Right to Education Act, and employment generation with skill-matching for youth in urban areas.

The ICDS scheme, has increased from Rs 16,334.88 crore (BE 2018-19) to Rs 19,427.75 crore (BE 2019-20), while the Poshan Abhiyan has received an allocation of Rs 3,400 crore, a substantial increase from last year”s sum of Rs 2,928.7 crore.

Currently the Samagra Shiksha Scheme at Rs 36,322 crore, is expected to continue for the complete school cycle, from pre-primary education to Class 12 for the children in the Budget.

The total allocation for the Sarva Shisksha Abhiyan and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiska Abhiyan may also be hiked in the Budget.

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