Critics all praise for jumbo Indian budget

KATHMANDU: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today presented a budget of IRs 10,20,838 crores in the Lok Sabha for the fiscal year 2009-10. The Indian budget crossed the mark of 10 lakh crores for the first time in its history.

Mukherjee said the first challenge was to lead the economy back to a high GDP growth of nine per cent per annum at the earliest. He added that the second challenge was to deepen and broaden the agenda for inclusive development amd that no individual community or region is denied the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the development process.

Mukherjee left corporate tax unchanged but announced the abolition of fringe benefit tax and commodity transaction tax. The new budget also increased the exemption slab for senior citizens and women.

Stocks tumbled five per cent after the FM said the fiscal deficit was likely to increase to 6.8 per cent of GDP. Mukherjee assured that the government would address the issue in right earnest to come back to the path of fiscal consolidation at the earliest as ‘this level of deficit was a matter of concern.’

Many critics, however, termed it a balanced budget saying it has aimed at winning confidence of both the investors and the citizens. The new budget has projected the revenue deficit at 4..8 per cent.

Mukherjee said a new bill would be introduced whereby people below poverty line will be entitled to buy 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at the rate of three rupees a kilo.

The budget has substantially upped outlays for some

of the flagship programmes. The budget allocated Rs 39,100 crore for rural jobs under National Rural Employment Generation Act, which is a steep increase of 144 per cent.

The budget proposed Rs 6, 95,689 crore towards non-Plan and Rs 3, 25,149 crore towards Plan expenditure. Non-Plan expenditure marks an increase of 37 per cent whereas Plan expenditure increases by 34 per cent.

Highlights of the new budget:

• Bharat Nirman allocation up

by 45 per cent

• Indira Awaas Yojna allocation

up by 63 per cent

• Rs 2,000 crores for rural

housing fund under National Housing Bank

• Rs 100 crores one-time grant

to expand banks in non-banking areas

• PM Gram Sadak Yojna up by 59 per cent to Rs.12, 000 crores..

• PM Grameen Adarsh Yojna on

pilot basis in 100 villages with SC/ST population.

• Swarna Jayanti Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY), now National Rural

Livelihood Mission (NRLM), to make it universal, more focussed and time-bound for poverty

alleviation by 2014

• Target to enrol 50 per cent of

rural women in self-help groups over next five years

• Incentives in interest rates to farmers to pay back

• Interest subsidy for home loans up to Rs one lakh

• Work on National Food Security scheme for subsidised food

• Govt to shift to nutrient-based fertiliser subsidy regime

• Fertiliser subsidy to go

directly to farmers

• Banking network to be


• One banking centre in every

bloc of the country. — HNS