Budget: Flagship programme allocation could go up by 30%
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s push for focus on the agriculture and social sector is likely to make its mark on the Union budget 2017-18 with allocation seen to increase by at least 30 per cent in 11 flagship programmes. The allocation in programmes like the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (rural) may increase to nearly Rs 1,50,000 crore in the coming budget from about Rs 1,15,000 crore, sources said. (See table)
“Since the most important part of commodities is the agriculture market, we expect eNAM (National Agriculture Market), which aims to connect the farmer with the traders, to be specifically enabled,” said Jayant Manglik, president (retail distribution), Religare Securities.
Earlier this month, the finance ministry had invited suggestions from the public through Twitter on its proposed focus for the 2017-18 budget. Sources said the maximum number of votes favoured agriculture, followed by manufacturing, infrastructure and information technology (IT).
RSS-affiliated organisations have asked the government to increase spending in areas that will give a fillip to the rural economy, including maximum benefits to farmers, sources said.
The report of the group of secretaries on agriculture and rural development, which has already been submitted to the prime minister, will be the main basis to allocate funds in the next budget, the sources added.
The group is reported to have suggested several mid-course corrections and new schemes required for the next year. To boost digitisation and cashless transaction in the rural areas, some incentives could be announced, the sources said.
Agriculture credit may see a jump to Rs 10 lakh crore in 2017-18 from the current level of Rs 9 lakh crore. While the irrigation fund with Nabard may see a further push from the current Rs 20,000 crore next year, the government is likely to allocate about Rs 5,000 crore within that fund only for precision farming such as drip irrigation.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had initially allocated Rs 38,500 crore for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in the 2016-17 budget but increased it by Rs 4,000 crore through the second supplementary Demand for Grants.
Next year, the total fund for the rural employment scheme may be increased to Rs 50,000 crore, the sources said.
As many as 79.80 lakh households had sought jobs under MNREGA in October, which dropped to 76.96 lakh in November, data revealed.
There are 12.51 crore households registered for the job guarantee programme. The average days of employment provided per household so far in FY 2016-17 is about 37 days, which stood at 49 days in 2015-16.
Though the law guarantees 100 days of employment per year for every household, it depends on demand from the workers.
According to the rural development ministry, 48.47 lakh households got 100 days of work in 2015-16, while only 9.37 lakh households have got the assured 100 days employment so far in 2016-17.
Manglik also said that warehousing will be in focus and steps are also likely to be announced, which lead to warehouse receipts being treated as securities, he added.
Modi has already announced that the number of houses being built for the poor under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas will be increased by 33 per cent.
Also on the cards is an interest subsidy of 3 per cent on housing loans of up to Rs 2 lakh by the middle class in rural areas. In other words, budget allocation under this flagship scheme may see a jump to Rs 20,000 crore next year from the current Rs 15,000 crore.