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Thursday, June 1, 2023

The welfare and growth focus in Union Budget 2022-23

The Union Budget for 2022-23 dovetails a massive welfare focus encompassing several schemes of the central government.

Under the Har Ghar, Nal Se Jal, 3.8 crore households are to be covered in 2022-23. The current coverage of Har Ghar, Nal Se Jal is 8.7 crore. Of this, 5.5 crore households were provided tap water in last 2 years itself. Allocation of Rs 60,000 crore has been made with an aim to cover a further 3.8 crore households in 2022-23.

In 2022-23, 80 lakh houses will be completed for the identified eligible beneficiaries of PM Awas Yojana, both rural and urban. Rs 48,000 crore is allocated for this purpose.

The Central Government will work with the state governments for reduction of time required for all land and construction related approvals, for promoting affordable housing for middle class and Economically Weaker Sections in urban areas.

1,208 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat and paddy will be procured from 163 lakh farmers, and a whopping Rs 2.37 lakh crore will be credited as direct payment of minimum support price (MSP) value to their accounts, FM Sitharaman announced in her Budget speech. The budgetary provision for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is Rs 15,500.00 crore and for Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) is Rs 68,000.00 crore.

Fertiliser subsidy for fiscal 2022-23 has gone up massively to Rs 1.4 lakh crore from Rs 79,500 crore. But at the same time, the centre will promote chemical-free, natural farming across the country with primary focus on farmers’ lands in 5-km-wide corridors along the river Ganga in the first stage.

A scheme in public private partnership (PPP) mode will be launched for delivery of digital and hi-tech services to farmers with the involvement of public sector research and extension institutions along with private agri-tech players and stakeholders of the agri-value chain. Use of ‘Kisan Drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, spraying of insecticides and nutrients etc.

The Finance Minister also announced the creation of a fund with blended capital, raised under the co-investment model that will be facilitated through NABARD. This is to finance startups for agriculture and rural enterprise, relevant for farm produce value chain. The activities for these startups will include, inter alia, support for Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs), machinery for farmers on rental basis at farm level, and technology including IT-based support.

A new scheme, Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East, PM-DevINE, will be implemented through the North-Eastern Council. It will fund infrastructure, in the spirit of PM Gati Shakti, and social development projects based on felt needs of the North-East. This will enable livelihood activities for youth and women, filling the gaps in various sectors. An initial allocation of Rs 1,500 crore will be made.

The government’s vision is to improve the quality of life of citizens in the most backward districts of the country through Aspirational Districts Programme. Ninety five per cent of those 112 districts have made significant progress in key sectors such as health, nutrition, financial inclusion and basic infrastructure. However, in those districts, some blocks continue to lag. In 2022-23, the programme will focus on such blocks in those districts.

Border villages with sparse population, limited connectivity and infrastructure often get left out from the development gains. Such villages on the northern border will be covered under the new Vibrant Villages Programme.

Digital Banking by Post Offices scheme covers 100 per cent of post offices to come on the core banking system. Digital Payments scheme envisages that Scheduled Commercial Banks to set up 75 Digital Banking Units in 75 districts.

Growth focus welcomed by CII

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) welcomed the Union Budget 2022-23, saying it has set the tone for Bharat’s aspiration to be the fastest growing major economy in the world this decade.

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee stated that the massive 35.4 per cent rise in capital spending budgeted for 2022-23 is in line with CII’s suggestion and lends credence to the government’s vision of improving the economy’s growth potential through a push to overall productivity of the economy and creation of jobs.

The outlay for capital expenditure in the Union Budget was stepped up sharply from Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the current year to Rs 7.50 lakh crore in 2022-23. With this investment taken together with the provision made for creation of capital assets through Grants-in-Aid to States, the ‘Effective Capital Expenditure’ of the Central Government is estimated at Rs 10.68 lakh crore in 2022-23, which will be about 4.1 per cent of the GDP.

“We are confident that the growth projection made by the Economic Survey at 8-8.5 per cent in 2022-23 will be met,” the CII DG averred.

Even as a boost was given to investments, Banerjee said the FM did a fine balancing act of maintaining fiscal discipline by containing the fiscal deficit at 6.9 per cent for the current fiscal and bringing it down along with a steady glide path of 6.4 per cent next year.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the budget seeks to lay the foundation and give a blueprint to steer the economy over the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of the next 25 years – from Bharat at 75 to Bharat at 100.

(With IANS inputs)

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