Budget 2021: Will help the poor, will spur growth, says FM

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February 13, 2021 5:10 AM

Union Budget 2021 India: Similarly, loans of over Rs 27,000 crore have been extended under the Mudra scheme, meant essentially for small-time budding entrepreneurs.

Sitharaman also countered the allegation that the Budgetary estimates are “suspect”.Sitharaman also countered the allegation that the Budgetary estimates are “suspect”.

Indian Union Budget 2021-22: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slammed the Opposition for trying to create a “false narrative” of the Budget for FY22 being “crony-centric”, listing out a raft of measures to suggest the government, on the contrary, has championed the cause of the poor and the vulnerable.

Speaking on the Budget in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said the latest Budget is the instrument using which the country will attain self-reliance. Besides providing quick short-term solutions in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has intended to chart “long-term sustainable growth” path through this Budget.

Sitharaman also countered the allegation that the Budgetary estimates are “suspect”. In fact, it was the UPA government that had resorted to issuing special bonds worth tens of thousands of crores, in lieu of cash subsidies, to oil-marketing companies, fertiliser firms and to FCI, she pointed out. On the contrary, the latest Budget has transferred below-the-line food subsidy (routed through FCI) to above-the-line in the interest of transparency. The sharp 34.5% rise in FY22 capex from the budget estimate of FY21 (26.2% from the revised estimate for FY21) is also based on credible numbers, and not engineered through statistical artefact, she insisted.

“We are looking at medium-term, long-term sustainable growth, which will enable India to remain one of the fastest-growing economies in the world,” she added.

Countering the notion that the government is “pro-rich”, Sitharaman said, in the wake of the pandemic, as many as 800 million people were provided free grains; free cooking gas was supplied to 80 million people; and cash was directly given to 400 million people, including farmers, women, the differently-abled and the poor. She, however, asserted that the government does appreciate the contribution of wealth creators.

“Over 1.67 crore houses were completed under the PM Awas Yojana. Is it for the rich? Over 2.67 crore households got electrified under the PM Saubhagya Yojana since October 2017. The total value of orders placed on the government’s e-market-place is Rs 8,22,077 crore. Are they being given to big companies? They are being given to MSMEs,” she pointed out.

As many as 69 crore farmers are registered on e-NAM portal. UPI transactions touched 3.6 lakh crore from August 2016 till January 2020, helping the middle class and small traders. About nine crore farmers are registered under the PM Fasal Bima Yojna and 11 crore farmers have received money under PM Kisan.

Similarly, loans of over Rs 27,000 crore have been extended under the Mudra scheme, meant essentially for small-time budding entrepreneurs.

It has now become “a sort of habit for some in the Opposition” to create a false narrative that this government works only for cronies, despite the facts to the contrary, the minister said.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi last week termed the Budget as “crony centric”. “Modi’s crony centric budget means- Struggling MSMEs given no low-interest loans, no GST relief. The employers of India’s largest workforce betrayed,” he tweeted.

Attacking the Congress on the budgetary support for the flagship rural employment guarantee scheme, Sitharaman said, the UPA kept making high budgetary allocation in the beginning of the year but never spent the entire budgeted amount. In contrast, the current NDA regime always spent more on the MGNREGA than its budget estimate for each year. Against the budget estimate of Rs 61,500 crore, the government has now allocated a record Rs 1,11,500 crore for the scheme in FY21, thanks to a surge in demand for work after the pandemic. Even in FY20, the actual MGNREGA spending stood at Rs 71,000 crore, against the budgeted `60,000 crore, she said. For FY22, the government has budgeted Rs 73,000 crore.

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