Budget Outlines Plans for Amrut Mahotsav – 75th anniversary of India’s Independence

By Sarkaritel February 28, 2015 20:45

Budget Outlines Plans for Amrut Mahotsav – 75th anniversary of India’s Independence

A roof for each family – 2 crore houses in urban and 4 crore houses in rural areas

By TN Ashok    Economics Editor

New Delhi, Feb 28: The Narendra Modi government today outlined a program to observe the 75th anniversary of India’s independence as “ Amrut Mahotsav” by providing a roof for each family – two crore houses in urban and four crore houses in rural areas.

Disclosing this in the Union Budget for 2015-16, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the year 2022 will be the Amrut Mahotsav, the 75th year, of India’s independence.

He added the vision of what the Prime Minister has called ‘Team India’ led by the States and guided by the Central Government should include a roof for each family which will require to complete two crore houses in urban areas and four crore houses in rural areas with each house having 24 hour power supply, clean drinking water, a toilet and road connectivity.

He said the vision includes that at least one member from each family should have access to the means of livelihood, substantial reduction in poverty, electrification of the remaining 20,000 villages including off-grid solar power by 2020, connecting each of the 1,78,000 un-connected habitation, providing medical services in each village and city, ensuring a Senior Secondary School within 5 km reach of every child, strengthening rural economy-increase irrigated area, ensuring communication connectivity to all villages, to make India, the manufacturing hub of the world through Skill India and the Make in India Programmes, encourage and grow the spirit of entrepreneurship and development of Eastern and North Eastern regions on par with the rest of the country.

Jaitley specifically talked about three key achievements of the Government, the Jan Dhan Yojana which brought over 12.5 crores families into financial mainstream in a short period of 100 days, transparent coal block auctions to augment resources of the states and ‘Swachh Bharat’ which has become a movement to regenerate India.

Reiterating that the Government’s commitment to farmers runs deep, the Finance Minister proposed to fully support Agriculture Ministry’s organic farming scheme – “Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana”. Stating that the Pradhanmantri Gram Sinchai Yojana is aimed at irrigating the field of every farmer and improving water use efficiency to provide ‘ Per Drop More Crop’’ , Shri Jaitley proposed allocation of Rs. 5,300 crore to support micro-irrigation, watershed development and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.

In order to support the agriculture sector with the help of effective agriculture credit and focus on small and marginal farmers, the Finance Minister proposed to allocate Rs. 25,000 crore to the corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development fund (RIDF) set up in NABARD, Rs. 15,000 crore for Long Term Rural Credit Fund; Rs. 45,000 crore for Short Term Cooperative Rural Credit Refinance Fund; and Rs. 15,000 crore for Short Term RRB Refinance Fund.

He said that the Government has set up an ambitious target of Rs. 8.5 lakh crore of agricultural credit. Stating the Government’s commitment to supporting employment through MGNREGA, The Minister proposed an initial allocation of Rs. 34,699 crore for the programme.

The Finance Minister proposed to create a Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank, with a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore, and credit guarantee corpus of 3,000 crore, which will refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana,. He added that priority will be given to SC/ST enterprises in lending.

While showing concern over a large proportion of India’s population being without any kind of insurance, Jaitley said that the soon-to-be- launched Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, will cover accidental death risk of Rs. 2 lakh for a premium of just Rs. 12 per year.

Similarly, he said, the Government will also launch the Atal Pension Yojana, which will provide a defined pension, depending on the contribution, and its period.

To encourage people to join this scheme, the Government will contribute 50% of the beneficiaries’ premium limited to Rs. 1,000 each year, for five years, in the new accounts opened before 31st December, 2015.

The third Social Security Scheme that the Minister announced is the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana which covers both natural and accidental death risk of Rs. 2 lakhs. The premium will be Rs. 330 per year, or less than one rupee per day, for the age group 18-50.

Mentioning about unclaimed deposits of about Rs. 3,000 crores in the PPF and approximately Rs. 6,000 crores in the EPF corpus, the Minister said that the amounts will  be appropriated to a corpus, which will be used to subsidize the premiums on these social security schemes through creation of a Senior Citizen Welfare fund in the Finance Bill. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to the on-going schemes for the welfare of SCs, STs and Women.

The Finance Minister underlined the pressing need to increase public investment in infrastructure. He said that he proposes increased outlays on both the roads and the gross budgetary support to the railways, by Rs. 14,031 crore and Rs. 10,050 crore respectively.

He said the CAPEX of the public sector units is expected to be Rs. 3,17,889 crore, an increase of approximately Rs. 80,844 crore  over RE 2014-15. He also proposed to establish National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) with an annual flow of Rs. 20,000 crore.  He said that he also intends to permit tax free infrastructure bonds for the projects in the rail, road and irrigation sector. He said the PPP mode of infrastructure development has to be revisited and revitalized.

Jaitley proposed to establish the Atal Innovation Mission(AIM) in NITI which will provide Innovation Promotion Platform involving academicians, and drawing upon national and international experiences. A sum of Rs. 150 crore is proposed to be earmarked for the mission.

The Finance Minister said that the Government is establishing a mechanism to be known as SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation) which will support all aspects of start-up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas. Rs. 1,000 crore have been initially earmarked in NITI Aayog for the purpose.             

Regarding the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Minister said the employees need to be provided two options, EPF or the New Pension Scheme (NPS). He said, for employees below a certain threshold of monthly income, contribution to EPF should be optional, without affecting or reducing the employer’s contribution.

In order to support Programmes for women security, advocacy and awareness, the Minister proposed to provide another Rs. 1,000 crore to the Nirbhaya Fund.

Jaitley said resources will be provided to start work along landscape restoration, signage and interpretation centres, parking, access for the differently abled, visitors’ amenities, including securities and toilets, illumination and plans for benefiting communities around them at various heritage sites.

The Minister emphasized on formal skill training and said the Government will soon launch a National Skills Mission which will consolidate skill initiatives spread across several Ministries. He said Rs. 1,500 crore has been set apart for Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojana. He proposed to set up a fully IT based Student Financial Aid Authority to administer and monitor Scholarship as well Educational Loan Schemes, through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram.

The Minister proposed to set up several New Institutions. An IIT will be set up in Karnataka and Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad will be upgraded in to a full-fledged IIT. New All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will be set up in J&K, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Assam. Another AIIMS like institution will be set up in Bihar. A post graduate institute of Horticulture Research & Education will be set up in Amritsar. Three new National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research will be set up in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh and one institute of Science and Education Research will be set up in Nagaland and Odisha each. IIMs will be setup in J&K and Andhra Pradesh.

Jaitley said India is making good progress towards digital India. He said the National Optical Fibre Network Programme (NOFNP) of 7.5 lakh kms networking 2.5 lakh villages is being further speeded up by allowing willing States to undertake its execution.

By Sarkaritel February 28, 2015 20:45