The Women and Child Welfare Ministry on Tuesday denied that comments made to Reuters about the impact of budget cuts on a child nutrition programme constituted a criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies. Modi’s government in February slashed social sector budgets to boost infrastructure spending in a bid to fasten the pace of economic recovery. States were asked to fill the gap from the larger share of federal taxes they receive from New Delhi.
In an interview on Monday Ms Maneka Gandhi, the women and child welfare minister, said the cut had hit her plans to strengthen the fight against malnutrition. Her ministry’s budget was initially slashed by half to $1.6 billion, but given an additional $618 million later. “We still have problems because our cut has still not been restored. Literally, it’s a month-to-month suspense on whether we can meet wages,” Gandhi said .
Following the Reuters story, the ministry denied that the minister had criticized the government’s policy.
The ministry said the states were given more funds in the hope that they would commit the necessary resources for social sector schemes but the states had not done so, leading to the uncertainty. The ministry said state chief ministers had made recommendations to address the problem. It added that the minister was confident that a solution would soon be found as the finance ministry was fully aware of the situation.