The meeting was to consider limiting the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year to cut down the government’s subsidy outgo by over Rs12,000 crore. However, the meet was called off at the last moment due to apparent objections from some UPA constituents
New Delhi: The meeting of a panel of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on limiting the supply of subsidised liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has been deferred after apparent objections from some UPA constituents, reports PTI.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) was scheduled to meet at 1330 hours today, but the meeting was preponed to 1230 hours. However, the meeting was called off at the last moment.
Official sources said the meeting was called off “due to non-availability” of certain members of the panel and no new dates have been notified.
The meet was to consider limiting the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year to cut down the government’s subsidy outgo by over Rs12,000 crore.
However, the move was opposed by key UPA allies, the DMK and TMC. DMK leader and fertiliser minister M K Azhagiri had decided not to attend the meeting to show his party’s opposition to the proposal, sources in the Chennai-based party said.
The Trinamool Congress, too, was opposed to the move, but its representative in the EGoM and railway minister, Dinesh Trivedi, was to attend the meeting to voice his party’s strong opposition to the proposal.
Other members of the EGoM include NCP leader and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde, road transport minister C P Joshi, oil minister S Jaipal Reddy and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Both the petroleum and finance ministries were keen on the proposal, as it would have plugged the diversion of subsidised LPG for commercial use and cut down the government’s subsidy outgo.
The EGoM was to consider giving every household only 4-6 LPG cylinders at a subsidised price of Rs395.35 in Delhi and asking them to pay the market price of Rs666 per bottle for any requirement beyond that.
Limiting the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders is likely to save the government over Rs12,000 crore in subsidy outgo annually.
The limited supply of subsidised LPG would be for those who own a car, two-wheeler, house or figure in the income tax list, according to the proposal.
Each 14.2-kg bottle of LPG normally lasts a household 45-60 days and based on this calculation, six cylinders are enough to see a family through the year.
At present, the records of LPG distributors of public sector companies shows that a vast number of households are taking as many as 20 to 30 cylinders per household each year.
This suggests that large-scale diversion of subsidised cooking gas is taking place, for use in commercial establishments, such as restaurants and dhabas and as auto fuel.
LPG for commercial use is sold at the market price and packed in different cylinders.
State-owned fuel retailers Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation lose about Rs63 crore per day on selling domestic LPG below cost.
Reserve Bank of India continues with monetary tightening despite slowdown
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today hiked short-term rates by 25 basis points (bps), persisting with its anti-inflationary monetary tightening measures.
The RBI announced it was hiking the repo rate (the rate at which it lends to banks) to 8.25% and the reverse repo rate to 7.25%.
This is the 12th time that the central bank has hiked key rates in 18 months, although it was widely expected that it may take a pause in the context of the economic slowdown.
The news of the rate hike dragged the stock market down more than one per cent. The benchmark indices, which were mostly positive this morning, dipped to just below Thursday’s closing levels, but recovered in volatile trading.
The Nifty which opened this morning at 5,123, nearly 50 points up from yesterday, slipped just after noon to 5,068, just under its previous close, then climbed back up about 0.7%. It was a similarly trend with the Sensex.
As the demand for home-care workers soars, it is necessary to recognise the huge potential of care-givers as a profession that can create livelihoods for many and provide critical help for people who live to a ripe old age
A recent issue of The Economist noted that as more and more people live to a 'ripe old age' in the US, the demand for home-care workers is likely to soar. The report estimated that America will need two million additional home-care givers. And, even in that country, they lack adequate training. It quotes Ai-Jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, as saying that "many of them are badly paid, get little or no time off and are vulnerable to injury because they have had no proper training for lifting immobile people… unless the pay and training of home-care workers are improved, ageing baby-boomers may have trouble finding competent people to look after them in their dotage."
How much worse the situation is in India can be gauged from even casual conversations with most urban middle-class, double-income families; most complain about the lack of home-care workers to look after their old parents. It is time we recognise the huge potential that care-givers, as a profession provides for creating livelihoods, especially for women and the consequential development impact it holds. Over the next few years, the changing demographics of India will present a huge opportunity which is waiting to be grabbed-either as business or as service or both.
According to an estimate, by 2050, India will have 335 million people above the age of 60. Assume that 60% of these are in urban areas-i.e., 201 million people. Further assume that 50% of these will require some amount of care-i.e., about 100 million. Of these, assume that 75% will either have some kind of family support or would go in for some kind of community care. So the balance 25% requires personal/individual care at home, and you are looking at a need for 25 million care-givers.
Are we in a position to provide the kind of training and certification that such care-givers require? A very simple calculation would show that each year for the next 40 years, we need to train 625,000 care-givers. Even if 50% of these are women-who need not be highly educated, just 10th std pass may be good enough-you are looking at providing training and, therefore, jobs to nearly 300,000 women each year. Additionally, to train such a large workforce you will require faculty of 7,500 trainers (assuming a ratio of 40:1).
Also, if we consider that each of these care-givers will earn about Rs6,000 (even at the current levels of payment to untrained hands), you are looking at putting some Rs1.8 billion into the economy annually-and this into the hands of women. Gender studies have shown it repeatedly that women's income directly goes into improved nutrition and education of children so the development impact of this activity will be obvious.
I have been talking to a few NGOs and social entrepreneurs and the issues they are mainly concerned with are certification criteria on the one hand and aspirational factors on the other. They don't have any doubts about the 'market' for it. A group of NGOs that worked together to devise the curriculum for such a training programme found that there was 100% placement of these geriatric care-givers within a week of their course completion.
I have also been talking to several associations of the elderly who say that while they are still able and earning, they would not mind even giving a scholarship of say Rs10,000 each year to support each trainee-it would become even more attractive if a tax rebate were available-if they were assured that they would be given a priority in hiring a care-giver for themselves from the institute where they would support such skill development, should the need arise.
Moneylife has commented on several interesting social experiments in its 'Beyond Money' section that have shown that such a model-of training not very highly educated women as home managers, community rural health workers and 'book fairies' from urban slums, etc-does work. (Read, 'Hum Aaapke Saath Hain', 'Dealing With Rural Poverty & Illness', 'Wings of Knowledge'.) To begin with, training care-givers may require to be subsidised through grants or scholarships, but when the trained care-givers find that their earning capacity improves tremendously with the skills gained, they would more than happily pay for the course, as Saath found.
It is time social entrepreneurs take up the challenge of creating livelihoods while simultaneously addressing a crying need of the hour.