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A Mixed Bag For Social Sectors

A push to the rural and digital economy but not much for the rest

A Mixed Bag For Social Sectors
A Mixed Bag For Social Sectors
outlookindia.com
2017-02-04T11:56:03+05:30

With the budget for 2017-18, the Union Government has continued adhering to the path of fiscal consolidation, which has res­ulted in the magnitude of total expenditure from the Union Budget declining from 13.4 per cent of GDP in 2016-17 (revised estimates) to 12.7 per cent of GDP in 2017-18 (budget estimates). In the wake of the impact of demonetisation on economic activities in a number of sectors, many would argue that an expansionary fiscal policy stance was needed at this juncture. The total expenditure is projected to increase to Rs 21.46 lakh crore, from Rs 20.14 lakh crore in the revised estimates for the current fiscal. This increase of Rs 1.32 lakh crore is mainly on account of an increase of Rs 35,000 crore in capital outlay across sectors and an increase of Rs 40,000 crore in interest payments in 2017-18 (BE). What this indicates is the absence of any significant increase in Union Budget allocations in most of the sectors.

With regard to budgetary priorities for the sectors where public provisioning of services and government interventions are directly relevant for the poor and underprivileged sections, development programmes for rural areas have received relatively better attention in this budget.  The overall budget outlay for the Ministry of Rural Development has been stepped up from Rs 97,760 crore in 2016-17 (RE) to Rs 1,07,758 crore in 2017-18 (BE). However, the only scheme under this ministry that seems to have witnessed a significant increase in the allocation is Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Rural (from Rs 16,000 crore in 2016-17 RE to Rs 23,000 crore in 2017-18 BE). But one should also take into account the increases in allocations, in 2017-18 (BE) over 2016-17 (RE), for some of the programmes under other ministries such as the National Rural Health Mission (from Rs 19,462 crore to Rs 21,189 crore), the Swachh Bharat...

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