Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday slammed the Union Budget 2023-24, saying that the government has done nothing for the “interest of people”. He also hit out at the reduction in allocation of funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
“Nothing is being done in the interest of people. Nothing has been done for poor states like Bihar. There was a provision of Rs 73,000 crore in MGNREGS in 22-23 but it has been reduced to Rs 60,000 crore. Budget of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi also decreased,” Kumar said, as quoted by ANI.
The Union Budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, allocated Rs 60,000 crore for the MGNREGS, lower than the budgetary estimate of Rs 73,000 crore for 2022-23. The reduction is sharper when compared with the revised estimate of Rs 89,400 crore for the current financial year.
For the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman, the Centre allocated Rs 60,000 for 2023-24, the lowest in last five years. In fact, the allocation is 13.33 per cent lower as compared to budgetary estimates of Rs 68,000 crore made for the financial year 2022-23.
An actual expenditure of Rs 66,825 crore was incurred on the scheme in 2021-22.
The PM-Kisan was launched by the Modi government during the December-March 2018-19 period. PM-Kisan, which is the biggest scheme of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, provides Rs 6,000 to the eligible beneficiary farmer families in a year, and the amount is transferred to their bank accounts in three equal 4-monthly instalments of Rs 2,000 each.
A total of 12 instalments have been released so far. The instalment for December-March (2022-23) is due from December 1, 2022.
Several other Opposition leaders have also criticised the reduction in the allocation of the MGNREGS. Calling the Budget “anti-poor”, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday said, “This budget 2023-24 is anti-poor, landless farmers and anti-common people as the schemes like Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, which proved to be a lifeline for poor people in the COVID-19 times, was given a budget support of 33 per cent (approximately Rs 30,000 crore).”
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also said that reduction in fund allocation “will hit the poor and farmers”.