UN agency, WHO hail budget


New Delhi : The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Tuesday lauded the union budget, saying it would “help achieve millennium development goals”.

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“We got to recognize that government of India has taken a strong step. We welcome Indian government policy (on social sector),” said UNDP India country director Deirdre Boyd while unveiling the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) report in New Delhi.

“Poverty can be reduced only through economic growth. It (the budget) is a major step. India’s track record on poverty eradication is remarkable. At least in the face of crisis, the government has the commitment towards the social sector,” Boyd said hailing the budget, which was presented Monday.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has laid a lot of emphasis on health, education and rural infrastructure, has said his budget was dedicated to the “aam aadmi” (the common man).

The health sector has been allocated nearly 23 percent more funds than last year. Similarly, with an allocation of over Rs.44,500 crore, the education sector expenditure has got around 20 percent hike.

Said S.J. Habayeb, the WHO representative to India: “India has done some progress on health front and increased budget allocations for programmes like National Rural Health Mission. I am quite optimistic about these developments.”

Added Biswajit Dhar, director general of autonomous think tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries: “Instead of just looking towards the stock exchange, we can see the positives in the budget. The fact that Indian government is taking some real concrete steps is a good sign.”

“What we need is sustainable development. The budget is definitely a good one,” said Dhar, who is associated in preparing the MDG report.

The UN has eight MDGs for poor and developing countries, including reduction of child and maternal mortality, curbing AIDS, providing universal education and empowerment of women.