Post Mortem

Budget 2021: Capturing the Pulse of the Nation

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/11/2021 1:55:11 PM IST

 Last week, the Budget 2021 was tabled in the parliament under extra ordinary circumstances. The new virus posed a serious challenge to our social and economic order. It tested the resilience of our health care systems, economy, governance, social structures and above all - our ability as a Nation, to react to such crisis situation. 

It is often said that “crisis situations are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are”. Here, I would like to appreciate the vision of our Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi, who realized the importance of being self reliant in the fast evolving ‘post COVID world order’ and immediately set out a road map for turning India into AtmaNirbhar Bharat. The budget 2021 is an expression of this vision.

With contraction in the economy, additional spending on welfare, widening fiscal deficit, there were twin challenges to pull back the economy to a ‘V’ shaped recovery and to secure the ‘livelihood of people’. However, the Finance Minister has come up with a brilliant budget that shall prove to be a ‘V’accine for our economy.

The government, through Budget 2021, has allayed fears of farmers. The introduction of agriculture infrastructure and development cess, increase in agriculture credit to the tune of Rs 16.5 lakh crores and allocation of infrastructure fund for augmenting infrastructure of APMCs echoes government’s intentions aimed at welfare of farmers. The centre’s promise for MSP which is 1.5 times of production cost, across all commodities, has been reconfirmed and amplified in Prime Minister’s own words at the floor of the house, “MSP tha, MSP haiaur MSP rahega”

Government has given a major push to infrastructure investment and placed its bets on multiplier effects of infrastructure spending to propel growth and employment. Capital expenditure has been significantly increased in BE 2021-22 with allocation of Rs 5.54 lakh crores which is 34.5% more than the BE 2020-21. Setting up of Development Financial Institution with an outlay of Rs 20,000 crores, expansion of National Infrastructure Pipeline and creation of National Monetization pipeline will go a long way in augmenting resources for upcoming projects. Ministry of Road Transport and highways has received allocation of Rs 1,17,000 crores including capital expenditure of Rs 1,08,000 crores, the highest ever. This sector has witnessed unprecedented growth over the last few years and is expected to grow further with the announcement of 3 new economic corridors in states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam with an investment of around 2,24,000 crores. 

It is heartening to note that the Government has prepared a National Rail Plan 2030 to prepare what the FM in her speech mentioned as “Future ready’ railway system. Apart from completing the western and eastern dedicated freight corridor projects by 2022, the government has proposed new freight corridor projects. This shall enable seamless freight transport and bring down the logistics cost for our Industry.

India is witnessing an accelerated growth in urban population. We need to improve upon existing urban infrastructure, comprehensively plan new facilities and create job avenues for this burgeoning urban population. In Budget 2021, the Government has announced a new scheme for augmentation of public bus transport services, through PPP mode, with an outlay of 18,000 crores. Metro rail and RRTS network is being further strengthened to cover Tier -2 cities and periphery of Tier-1 cities.

A Jal Jeevan mission (Urban) has been announced to provide piped water supply to 4,378 Urban local bodies with an outlay of Rs 2.87 crores over the next 5 years. This announcement rides on the glorious success of JJM (rural) through which 3.04 crore rural households have been provided tap water in an years time, against 3.23 crore rural households that were provided piped water supply since independence, till 2019. 

I have, in my earlier writings, termed JJM as a social revolution since the outcome of this scheme is not just limited to providing tap water to people. It creates demand for skilled workforce like pipe fitters, plumbers, electricians, pump operator etc. It mandates participation of women in Panisamitis for planning and monitoring village water supply schemes hence empowering them. It gives priority to weaker sections of society hence ensuring inclusion and equality.

Talking about Health sector, the FM announced a whopping increase of 137% in the budgetary outlay. A new scheme – PM Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crores over the next 6 years has been announced. Government has announced Mission Poshan 2.0 and Urban Swchch Bharat Mission 2.0 that shall have significant impact on health parameters.

Setting up of 100 new Sainik Schools, 750 new eklavya model residential schools in tribal areas and quality up-gradation of 15,000 existing schools as per New Education Policy, shall improve access to quality education for the younger generation. The revamping of Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs with an outlay of Rs 35,000 crores over the next 5 years is a welcome step. It shall benefit over 4 crore SC students and help improve the Gross Enrolment Ratio (Higher education) by preventing dropouts. In addition to it, the overall allocation to welfare schemes for SCs, across Ministries, has been increased to Rs 1,26,259 crores from Rs 83,256 crores that is almost by 51%. Also, special care has been taken of our elderly citizens by giving them exemption from filing tax return in case their source of income is only pension and interest. The Budget, therefore, is symbolic of Modi Government’s agenda of” Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”

Overall, the budget has been well received and markets have reacted positively towards it. Our Finance Minister has walked a tight rope of fiscal prudence and tabled a budget which maintains a fine balance between capital expenditure to trigger economic growth and public spending to secure welfare and livelihood of people. This was the need of the hour and shall lay a strong foundation for Atma Nirbhar Bharat in the times to come. Therefore, I term it as a budget – that captures the pulse of the Nation.

Author is Minister of State – Ministry of 

Jal Shakti & Social Justice and Empowerment – Rattan Lal Kataria


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