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With India investing Rs 2.21 trillion

With India investing Rs 2.21 trillion in creating and upgrading infrastructure in the next fiscal year, an elated Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the Union Budget of 2016 as pro-village, poor and farmers with focus on bringing about qualitative change in the country and alleviate poverty through a slew of time-bound programmes. “Special attention paid to agriculture, village infrastructure, healthcare, employment generation and Dalit entrepreneurship. …This budget is pro-village, pro-poor, pro-farmer. The main focus is to bringing about qualitative change in the country,” Modi said, adding “there will be a big change in the lives of common people. …The budget has laid a roadmap to alleviate poverty in a time-bound manner. …Several steps have been taken for the farmers. The most important is Pradhan Mantri Krishi Yojana.” Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is ‘on-spot’ clear when he tells JUST IN PRINT : “We believe in the principle that money with the Government belongs to the people and we have the sacred responsibility to spend it prudently and wisely for the welfare of our people, especially the poor and the downtrodden. We have increased our Plan expenditure at the RE stage in 2015-16 in contrast to the usual practice of reducing it. We achieved this despite adopting the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendations which increased devolution to the States by 55%.” We must now look ahead, says he. The risks of further global slowdown and turbulence are mounting. This complicates the task of economic management for India. It has three serious implications for us. First, we must strengthen our firewalls against these risks by ensuring macro-economic stability and prudent fiscal management. Second, since foreign markets are weak, we must rely on domestic demand and Indian markets to ensure that India’s growth does not slow down. And third, we must continue with the pace of economic reforms and policy initiatives to change the lives of our people for the better. We see these challenges as opportunities. The financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17 have been and will be extremely challenging for Government expenditure. The 14th Finance Commission has reduced the Central share of taxes to 58% from the 68%. In the financial year 2015-16, we managed to improve upon the budgeted expenditure due to revenue buoyancy, notwithstanding the steep reduction in the Central share of taxes. The next financial year 2016-17 will cast an additional burden on account of the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission and the implementation of Defence OROP. The Government, therefore, has to prioritise its expenditure. We wish to enhance expenditure in the farm and rural sector, the social sector, the infrastructure sector and provide for recapitalisation of the banks. This will address those sectors which need immediate attention. Once the Government discharges these priority obligations, it shall then focus on other areas which are also of utmost priority to the Government.
While increasing the outlay of various social sector programmes, the Government has undertaken three major schemes to help the weaker sections of the society. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has already been announced to protect the farmer from the adverse consequences of nature. The farmer will pay a nominal amount of insurance premium and get the highest ever compensation in the event of any loss suffered. A health insurance scheme which protects one-third of India’s population againsthospitalisation expenditure is also being announced. The Government is also launching a new initiative to ensure that the BPL families are provided with a cooking gas connection, supported by a Government subsidy. This will significantly improve the health of women and those BPL families who suffer adversely from the ill-effects of Chulha cooking.
By taking the Annual Budget as an opportunity for the present Government to outline its priorities for the year/s to come, The priority of the Government is clearly to provide additional resources for vulnerable sections, rural areas and social and physical infrastructure creation. The Government has also endeavoured to continue with the ongoing reform programme and ensure the passage of the Constitutional amendments to enable the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax, the passage of Insolvency and Bankruptcy law and other important reform measures which are pending before the Parliament.

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