Presenting the Budget in Parliament, he promised that the government would continue the assault on poverty and unemployment. Growth will be our mount; equity will be our companion; and social justice will be our destination, the minister declared.
He stressed the bulk of resources would go to eight flagship programmes Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-day Meal Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, Total Sanitation Campaign, National Rural Health Mission, Integrated Child Development Services, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Total allocations for the schemes have been raised by 43.2% at Rs 50,015 crore in 2006-07.
Taking a dig at critics of the Bharat Nirman programme, Mr Chidamabaram said the numbers are a complete answer to those who scoffed at the scheme. Promising to take it up on mission mode, he extended a larger budgetary support of Rs 18,696 crore, up 54% than last year. This would include a North-east component of Rs 12,160 crore.
Education and health continue to be priority areas, with allocation for education up by 31.5% to Rs 24,115 crore and for health and family welfare up 22.0% to Rs 12,546 crore.
In yet another vote bank-dictated measure, he brought out a separate statement on welfare schemes for the SCs and STs, increasing allocations by 14.5% to Rs 2,902 crore.
For minorities, Mr Chidambaram has a bagful of proposals lined up, like scholarships, Urdu promotion, increasing the corpus of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation.
In line with the Economic Survey, the minister harped on the UPAs commitment to shifting the emphasis of social sector schemes from quantity to quality. He also promised a performance Budget in the Outcome Budget before the end of this Budget session.