FM Sitharaman lists the ‘saptarishi’ of Union Budget 2023
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget 2022 – the “first budget in Amrit Kaal”.
As she delivered the speech, the finance minister outlined the seven priorities of this year’s Union Budget. “These priorities complement each other and act as the ‘saptarishi’ guiding us through the Amrit Kaal,” the finance minister said.
These priorities comprise “inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power, and financial sector.”
“The government’s philosophy of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, has facilitated inclusive development covering in specific, farmers, women, youth, OBCs, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, divyangjan, and economically weaker sections,” said Sitharaman.
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The Budget 2023 aims at empowering the underprivileged. “There has also been a sustained focus on Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and North East. This budget builds on those efforts,” the FM said.
Similarly, digital public infrastructure for agriculture will be built as an open source, open-standard and inter-operable public good, she noted. This, she added, will enable inclusive farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning. “This will also help improve farm inputs, credit and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for agri-tech industry and startups.”
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An agriculture accelerator fund will be set up to help agri startups by young entrepreneurs in rural areas. “The fund will aim at bringing innovative and affordaable solutions for challenges faced by farmers. It will also bring modern technology to transform agriculture practices, increase productivity and profitability.”
This will bring about collabration between farmers, state, and industry, for input supplies, extension services, and market linkages. “We will launch an ‘atmanirbhar’ clean plant programme, to boost availability of disease free quality planting material for high value horticulture crops, at an outlay of 2,200 crores,” she added.
Sitharaman added that 157 new nursing colleges will be established in colocation with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014.
A mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047 will be launched. The mission will entail awareness creation, universal screening of 7 crore people in the age group of 0 – 40 years in affected tribal areas, and counselling through collaboration of central ministries and state governments.
Facilities in select ICMR labs will also be made available for research by public and private medical college faculties and private sector R&D teams for encouraging collaborative research innovation. A new pharma programme to promote research in pharmaceuticals will be taken up through Centres of Excellence.
Unleashing the potential
National digital library for children and adolescents will be set up, “for facilitating availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres, and levels and device agnostic availability. States will be “encouraged” to start physical libraries.
In addition, to build the culture of reading and to make up for pandemic time learning loss the national book trust, the children’s book trust, and other sources will be encouraged to provide and replenish non curricular titles in regional languages and in English to these physical libraries.
Collaboration with NGOs will also be a part of this initiative to inculcate financial literacy. Financial sector regulators and organisations will be required to provide age appropriate reading material to these libraries.
The Budget also aims to promote India as a global hub for millets. “India is at the forefront of popularising millets whose consumption furthers nutrition, food security and welfare of farmers,” she said quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian Institute of millet research, hyderabad will be supported as a centre of excellence for sharing best practices, research and technologies, at the international level.
The agricultural credit target will be increased to Rs 20 lakh crore with focus on animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries.
To this end, a new sub-scheme will be launched with targeted investment of Rs 6,000 crore to enable activities of fishermen, fish vendors, and micro and small entrepreneurs, improve value chain efficencies and expand the market, the FM added.
Sitharaman further noted that the Centre is implementing many programmes for green fuel, green energy, green farming, green mobility, green buildings, and green equipment and policies for efficient energy across various economic sectors.
“These green growth efforts help in reducing carbon intensity of the economy and provides for large scale, green job opportunities.”
Reaching the last mile
To provide a sharper focus to the objective of ‘Reaching the last mile’ the government has formed the Ministries of AYUSH, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Dairy, Skill Development, Jalshakti, and Cooperation.
The finance minister also spoke about the Eklavaya Model Residential Schools (EMRS). “In the next three years the Union government will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for 740 schools serving 3.5 lakh tribal students,” she said.
Rs 5,300 crore assistance from the Union Government has been allocated for drought-prone areas in poll-bound Karnataka.
Support wil also be provided to poor persons in prison, the finance minister noted.
Infrastructure and investment
The finance minister said infrastructure growth has been offering multiplier effects in the economy. Under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), over 89,151 projects worth Rs 141.4 lakh crore are under various stages of implementation.
The minister further added that enhanced capex of Rs 10 lakh crore for infrastructure development is 3.3 per cent of the GDP.
She announced that a fifty-year interest free loan to state governments has been extended for one more year, Rs 2.4 crore outlay for railways, and Rs 75,000 crore for 100 transport infrastructure projects, including Rs 15,000 crore from private srouces.
In addition, 50 additional airports, heliports, water aerodromes, and advanced landing zones will be revived to improve regional air connectivity.
Similarly, cities and towns will be enabled for 100% mechanical desludging of septics tanks and sewers to transition from manhole to machine hole mode, the FM noted.
In a push towards technology, three centres of excellence in artificial intelligence will also be set up in existing engineering universities. 100 labs for developing apps to use 5G wil also be established.
Urban Infrastructure Development Fund will also be established through priority sector lending shortfall. This will be managed by the National Housing bank and will be used by public agencies to create urban infrastructure in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
“To empower our youth and help the ‘Amrit Peedhi’ realise their dreams, we have formulated the National Education Policy, focused on skilling, adopted economic policies that facilitate job creation at scale, and have supported business opportunities,” the finance minister said.
Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 will be launched to skill lakhs of youth within the next three years.
On-the-job training, industry partnership, and alignment of courses with needs of industry will also be emphasised. The scheme, she noted, will also cover new age courses for Industry 4.0 like coding, AI, robotics, mechatronics, IOT, 3D printing, drones, and soft skills.
To skill youth for international opportunities, 30 Skill India International Centres will be set up across different States.
Stipend support will also be provided to 47 lakh youth in three years. A Direct Benefit Transfer under a pan-India National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme will also be rolled out.