Basic education from cess pool

THE burden of financing basic education is directly on the tax payer through the 2% education cess. Indications are that for the next financial year (2008-09), the cess will account for a sizeable portion of the Rs 21,100 crore allocated for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the mid-day meal programme. For 2007-08, the cess accounted for 57.7% (Rs 10, 393 crore) of the Rs 17,995.02 crore dedicated for these two programmes. So even as allocations in the Budget for these programmes increase, the gross budgetary support provided for the programmes has been on the decline. The 2% education cess was levied in the Budget 2004-05, ostensibly to ensure that more money flowed into the basic education segment as promised in the UPA government's common minimum programme. The education cess is levied on all central taxes, such as corporate tax, income tax, service tax, custom duty. It is not that the government isn't committed to providing basic education