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Budget 2007-08 has a silver lining - F.M. earmarks Rs. 1,800 crore for employment of disabled people

D.N.I.S. News Network – In a major breakthrough in the area of employment for disabled people, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram announced that he has earmarked Rs. 1,800 crore for the employment of disabled people. He also announced incentives and proposed a scheme under which the Government will reward the employer once the physically disabled employee is regularised and is enrolled under the Employees Provident Fund (E.P.F.) and the Employees State Insurance (E.S.I.).

Introducing the Union Budget 2007-2008 on 28 February 2007, Chidambaram said (para 105), “Among the disadvantaged sections of the society are physically disabled persons. They face difficulties in obtaining regular employment. In order to incentivise employers in the organised sector to provide regular employment, I propose a scheme whereunder Government will reward the employer once the physically disabled employee is regularised and is enrolled under the Employees Provident Fund (E.P.F.) and the Employees State Insurance (E.S.I.). Under the scheme, Government will reimburse the employer’s contribution to the E.P.F. and E.S.I. for the first three years. Government is ready to support the creation of about 100,000 jobs every year for physically disabled persons with a salary limit of Rs.25,000 per month. I estimate the cost to Government at Rs.150 crore per annum rising to Rs.450 crore per annum when the scheme is fully rolled out. I have therefore earmarked Rs.1,800 crore.”

The Budget also focuses on polio, with an allocation of Rs. 1,290 crore. The Finance Minister has announced that (para 26), “…The strategy for polio eradication has been revised. The number of polio rounds will be increased, monovalent vaccine will be introduced, and there will be intensive coverage in the 20 high risk districts of Uttar Pradesh and 10 districts of Bihar. The programme has been integrated into the N.R.H.M. The A.S.H.A.s and the Anganwadi workers will visit every household and track every child for the immunisation programme. To achieve the goal of eliminating polio, I propose to provide Rs.1,290 crore in 2007-08.”

Touching upon Social Security (para 64), the Finance Minister also expressed his intention to make a beginning with regard to the welfare of unorganised workers who enjoy no cover at all today, and proposed to extend death and disability insurance cover through Life Insurance Corporation of India (L.I.C.) to rural landless households under a new scheme called 'Aam Admi Bima Yojana' (A.A.B.Y.). The head of the family or one earning member in the family will be insured. Urging the State Governments to come forward to bear the other 50 per cent on behalf of the beneficiaries, Chidambaram said, “Taking into account the annual cost to the Central Government, I intend to place a sum of Rs.1,000 crore in a fund that will be maintained by L.I.C. I propose to finalise the scheme in consultation with State Governments and begin to implement it in 2007-08.”