Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Union Budget 2018 on February 1. Three key elements expected in the Budget 2018 are Rural and Agricultural Development, Infrastructure, and Employment. FE looks back at the budgetary allocations to these areas in previous three Budgets -- 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The date for the Union Budget 2018 is just sixteen days away, as keeping up with the tradition that was started last year, Finance Minister, this year too, will present the Budget on February 1. While the Finance Ministry is prepping up for the last full Budget of the present government, three key elements expected in the Budget 2018 are Rural and Agricultural Development, Infrastructure, and Employment. FE looks back at the budgetary allocations to these areas in previous three Budgets — 2015, 2016 and 2017 — and how this year’s allocations are likely to be.
Arun Jaitley, during his first full Budget presentation in 2015, said, “Our infrastructure does not match our growth ambitions. There is a pressing need to increase public investment,” and kept allocating record amount of funds to boost infrastructure, however, the private investments remained mute all these years.
In the Budget 2018, too, it is expected that there will be a record allocation for the infrastructure sector, as it is key to development and employment generation. Economists have been pressing for the need to have more and more public-private partnership model. The ministry of road transport and highways is learnt to have sought around Rs 75,000 crore of budgetary support for the next fiscal, against Rs 64,900 crore budgeted for 2017-18.
Rural, Agriculture and allied sectors:
Last year, to give the much need push to rural and agriculture sector, Arun Jaitley allocated record Rs 1,87,223 crore in 2017 and about Rs 1,51,000 crore in 2016. In the Union Budget 2018, Arun Jaitley is expected to announce big budgetary allocations for the rural and agricultural sector, especially when the 2019 General Election is around the corner. It is being pegged that farm research could see a 10% increase from Rs 6,800 crore for 2017-18 and overall allocation for agriculture could be raised 5-10%.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
Even as the Narendra Modi government once called MGNREGA a “living monument of Congress failure”, it has allocated record funds for the rural employment programme. As the General Elections are just 15 months away, and this is the last full budget of the government, analysts expect that government is going to allocate a big amount to MGNREGA in Budget 2018 as well. The government has already spent 52,000 crore in 2017-18, as against allocated Rs 48,000 crore and even asked for an additional Rs 3,596 crore as supplementary demand. It is likely that the Budgetary allocation for 2018-2019 for MGNREGA is going to surpass Rs 60,000 crore.
As the buzz word around job market presently is reskilling, the government is also likely to up its budgetary allocation for the skill development, which has also been the top priority for the government. The Budgetary allocations for skill development and entrepreneurship have been Rs 1,038 crore, Rs 1,804 crore and Rs 3016 in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. In the Budget 2018, the allocation for skill development in this labour-intensive sector is expected to rise to Rs 500-600 crore from just Rs 174 crore for 2017-18.