Union Budget 2019 India: While the focus on physical infrastructure building continues along with provision of housing, sanitation facilities and clean fuel, there has also been an equal emphasis on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities.
By Sandip Somany
Union Budget 2019 India: At the Centre of everything that we do, we keep gaon, garib aur kisan,” said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her first Budget presentation. As we read the Budget papers in detail, we see a clear focus of the government, and rightly so, on strengthening the tenets of the rural economy, i.e. Bharat.
The proposals with regard to the rural economy underline the government’s commitment to wholesome development of the hinterland. While the focus on physical infrastructure building continues along with provision of housing, sanitation facilities and clean fuel, there has also been an equal emphasis on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities.
Take, for instance, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin, where an astounding 1.54 crore homes were delivered in the last five years, taking one-third of the time to deliver as it did earlier. The second phase of PMAY-G (2019-20 to 2021-22) targets delivering 1.95 crore houses to beneficiaries. These houses will also have toilets, electricity and LPG connections.
Watch FE Explained video: What is Union Budget?
So, we have Ujjwala and Saubhagya working in tandem with rural housing. Similarly, with all-weather connectivity achieved for 97% of eligible habitations, the new avatar of PMGSY envisages ensuring connectivity for habitations to education, health, market and mobility by upgrading 1.25 lakh km of roads over five years.
Then there is focus on setting up 100 new clusters during 2019-20 to enable 50,000 artisans to join the economic value chain, and anchoring 80 Livelihood Business Incubators and 20 Technology Business Incubators to develop 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industry sectors.
The decision to set up 10,000 farmer producer organisations, leveraging the benefits of e-NAM for getting fair and remunerative price, and having zero-based budgeting for agriculture are also welcome.
The government is indicating its resolve to tackle what ails agriculture and rural sectors, and while fully appreciative of these efforts, Ficci feels a few more areas could have gotten greater attention.
Foremost is the need to review the MSP to address the issue of distortions in cropping patterns, as well as in light of the expansion of the direct income support to farmers.
There is also a need to remove agriculture products and food items from the Essential Commodities Act.
Another expectation was the government would announce something on the looming water crisis—we were expecting some announcements on micro-irrigation, on water conservation, and changes in cropping pattern.
With the Budget exercise now over, we hope the government would adequately consider these and make an active intervention during the course of the year.
The industry, on its part, remains steadfast behind the government in achieving the vision set out for the country.
(The author is President, FICCI)