Pravati Parida commits Subhadra rollout in 100 days, but it is fraught with challenges

The first cabinet of the new BJP government held hours after the swearing-in ceremony on June 12 had cleared the Subhadra Yojana, a major promise of the party in the just-concluded elections.
Odisha Chief Minister Pravati Parida
Odisha Chief Minister Pravati ParidaPhoto | Express

BHUBANESWAR: A day after Odisha government sought partial funding from the Centre for its flagship Subhadra Yojana, deputy chief minister Pravati Parida on Sunday said modalities for the scheme are being finalised and all women of the state will receive a cash voucher of Rs 50,000 to be spent over a period of two years as promised, within 100 days.

“The government is fully prepared for its rollout. The Centre has been urged to partially fund the scheme. Without waiting for anyone, the state government will implement it and provide the promised support to women in 100 days,” Parida, who holds the Women and Child Development (WCD) department, told mediapersons on Sunday.

The first cabinet of the new BJP government held hours after the swearing-in ceremony on June 12 had cleared the Subhadra Yojana, a major promise of the party in the just-concluded elections.

However, the key questions over the eligibility criteria surround the scheme. While the government has emphasised that every woman will receive the cash voucher, the specifics on whether it will be limited to one woman per family or all women irrespective of income and domicile remain unclear.

If the BJP manifesto and the announcement of the chief minister are to be believed, the scheme is intended to benefit all women residing in Odisha, regardless of their economic status and domicile. If that is the case, the state government will have to make a budgetary provision of over Rs 1 lakh crore to cover more than 2 crore women population as per 2011 Census.

Dy CM commits Subhadra rollout in 100 days, but exercise fraught with challenges

The modalities will have to consider if the coverage will be for all women or women of 18 years and above, women of Odisha residing outside the state or those from outside the state who are residents here. Whether job holders - government or private - will be excluded or not, and income criteria will have to be taken into consideration,” said an official.

Apart from the eligibility, another pivotal aspect that would to be finalised is the usage of the cash vouchers. While the government has stressed that the vouchers will have to be used for enhancing women’s socio-economic status including education, healthcare, and entrepreneurial ventures, a concrete list of permissible expenditures will also have to be fixed.

“The budget size of Odisha is around Rs 2.5 lakh crore. If the government provides cash voucher of Rs 50,000 to all women aged over 18 years, it will have to make a provision of around Rs 80,000 crore (considering around 1.7 crore women in the bracket). For one woman per family, the financial implications will be around Rs 50,000 crore (considering one crore families in the state). The government has to fix a criteria and make it clear whether it would merge some other existing schemes for women. Else, it will be a huge burden on the state economy,” said secretary of Odisha Economics Association, Amarendra Das.

While the exact budgetary provision is yet to be estimated, the economists said that the scheme, if implemented broadly, would strain fiscal resources earmarked for other welfare initiatives. They stressed the need for transparent guidelines to ensure equitable distribution of the benefits.

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