The government’s spending on social services, such as health and education, increased during the past year. According to the Economic Survey 2021-22 released on 31st January 2022, the Centre and state governments earmarked 8.6% of GDP for social services, spending of Rs. 71.61 lakh crore in the current financial year. This is 9.8 per cent higher than the last financial year where the spending accounted for Rs. 65.24 lakh crore.
“Social services include, education, sports, art and culture, medical and public health, family welfare, water supply and sanitation, housing; urban development, welfare of SCs, STs and OBCs, labour and labour welfare, social security and welfare, nutrition, relief on account of natural calamities etc,” the Survey for the financial year ending March 31, 2022, said.
The government spending on Education
The budget for education by the Centre and states in the social service sector remained unchanged at 3.1 per cent of GDP. The coronavirus pandemic, according to the survey, has had a tremendous influence on India’s education system, affecting lakhs of schools and colleges.
But is “difficult to gauge the real-time impact of repeated lockdowns on the education sector because the latest available comprehensive official data dates back to 2019-20. This provides the longer time pre-COVID trends but does not tell us how the trend may have been impacted by COVID-19 induced restrictions,” it added.
“During initial COVID-19 restrictions, as a precautionary measure to protect the students from COVID-19, schools and colleges were closed across India…This posed a new challenge for the Government in terms of continuity of education,” the survey added.
The government spending on Health
In 2021-22, health spending grew to 2.1 per cent, up from 1.8 per cent the previous year. “Although, the pandemic has affected almost all social services, yet the health sector was the worst hit. Expenditure on the health sector increased from Rs. 2.73 lakh crore in 2019-20 (pre-COVID-19) to Rs 4.72 lakh crore in 2021-22 (BE), an increase of nearly 73 per cent,” the survey which was tabled in Parliament said.
The government Spending on Other Social Services
For the “other” sector, which includes sanitation, labour welfare, housing, and urban development, the government ended up spending 3.3 per cent of GDP in FY 2020-21, down from 3.4 per cent in FY 2020-21.
In total, Rs 19.06 lakh crore was allocated to the three social service areas of education, health, and others in FY22, compared to Rs 16.34 lakh crore in the previous year. According to the FY22 Budget estimates, health expenditures totalled Rs 4.72 lakh crore, education expenditures totalled Rs 6.97 lakh crore, and other expenditures totalled Rs 7.37 lakh crore.
Growth Estimation for FY 2022-23
India’s growth rate in 2022-23 will be between 8% and 8.5 per cent, according to the Economic Survey, which also warned against rising oil costs, rising inflation, and interest rate hikes in the United States. In the medium term, it selected employment, education, and agriculture as three important priority areas to focus on.