Overview of the economy
* Growth rate of Gross Domestic Product dipped from an average of over 9% in the previous three fiscal years to 6.7% during 2008-09.
* Whole sale price index rose to nearly 13% in August, 2008 and had an equally sharp fall to 0% in March, 2009.
* The structure of India’s economy changed over the last ten years with contribution of the services sector to GDP at well over 50% and share of merchandise
* Trade doubling to 38.9% of GDP in 2008-09.
* Recognising economic recovery and growth as co-operative effort of the Central and State Governments, meeting with Finance Ministers of States held as part of preparation of the Budget. This is intended to become an annual feature.
TOWARDS ECONOMIC REVIVAL
* To counter the negative fallout of the global slowdown on the Indian economy,
* Government responded by providing three focused fiscal stimulus packages in the form of tax relief and increased expenditure on public projects along with RBI taking a number of monetary easing and liquidity enhancing measures.
* Fiscal accommodation led to an increase in fiscal deficit from 2.7% in 2007-08 to 6.2% of GDP in 2008-09.
* The fiscal stimulus at 3.5% of GDP at current market prices for 2008-09 amounts to Rs1.7 trillion.
* Measures taken by the Government were effective in arresting the fall in GDP growth rate in 2008-09. 6.7% growth rate recorded in 2008-09.
* IIFCL to evolve a Takeout financing scheme in consultation with banks to facilitate incremental lending to infrastructure sector.
* IIFCL to refinance 60 per cent of commercial bank loans for PPP projects in critical sectors over the next fifteen to eighteen months. IIFCL and Banks are now in a position to support projects involving total investment of Rs.1 trillion.
Highway and Railways
* Allocation to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the National
* Highway Development Programme (NHDP) increased by 23% over budget estimate (BE) 2008-09 in BE 2009-10 and allocation for Railways increased from Rs108 billion in interim BE 2009-10 to Rs158 billion in BE 2009-10.
Allocation under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) stepped up by 87% to Rs128.9 billion in BE 2009-10 over BE 2008-09. Allocation for housing and provision of basic amenities to urban poor enhanced to Rs39.7 billion in BE 2009-10. This includes provision for Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), a new scheme announced.
Brihan Mumbai Storm Water Drainage Project (BRIMSTOWA)
Provision for the project BRIMSTOWA initiated in 2007 and funded through Central Assistance to address the problem of flooding in Mumbai, enhanced from Rs2 billion in interim BE 2009-10 to Rs5 billion in BE 2009-10 to expedite completion of the project.
Allocation under Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP) increased by 160% to Rs20.8 billion in BE 2009-10 over BE 2008-09.
Blueprint to be developed for long distance gas pipelines leading to a National Gas Grid to facilitate transportation of gas across the length and breadth of the country.
Assam Gas Cracker Project
Outlay for Assam Gas Cracker Project stepped up suitably in BE 2009-10.
* Target for agriculture credit flow set at Rs3.3 trillion for the year 2009-10. In 2008-09 agriculture credit flow was at Rs2.9 trillion.
* Interest subvention scheme for short term crop loans up to Rs300,000 per farmer at the interest rate of 7% per annum to be continued. Additional subvention of 1% to be paid from this year, as incentive to those farmers who repay short term crop loans on schedule. Additional allocation of Rs4.1 billion over interim BE 2009-10 made for this.
Debt Relief for Farmers
* Time given to the farmers having more than two hectares of land to pay 75% of their over dues under Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme extended from 30th June 2009 to 31st December 2009.
* Taskforce to be set up to examine the issue of debt taken by a large number of farmers in some regions of Maharashtra from private money lenders who were not covered by the loan waiver scheme announced last year.
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme
* Allocation under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) increased by 75% over BE 2008-09.
* Allocation under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) stepped up by 30% in BE 2009-10 over BE 2008-09.
RESTORING EXPORT GROWTH
* Adjustment assistance scheme to provide enhanced Export Credit and Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) cover at 95% to badly hit sectors extended up to March 2010.
* Allocation for Market Development Assistance Scheme enhanced to Rs1.2 billion in BE 2009-10.
* Interest subvention of 2% on pre-shipment credit for seven employment oriented export sectors extended beyond the current deadline of 30th September to 31st March 2010.
* To facilitate flow of credit at reasonable rates, Rs40 billion provided as special fund out of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) to Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). This will incentivise Banks and State Finance Corporations (SFCs) to lend to Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) by refinancing 50% of incremental lending to MSEs during the current financial year.
* Stimulus package for print media comprising waiver of 15% agency commission on DAVP advertisements and 10% increase in DAVP rates to be paid as a special relief subject to documentary proof of loss of revenue in nongovernmental advertisements, extended from 30th June to 31st December 2009.
To bring the fiscal deficit under control, institutional reform measures to be initiated during the current year itself.
* To ensure balanced application of fertilizers for increasing agricultural productivity, Government intends to move towards a nutrient based subsidy regime so as to cover larger basket of fertilizers with innovative fertilizer products available in the market at reasonable prices.
* It is intended to move to a system of direct transfer of subsidy to the farmers in due course.
Petroleum and Diesel pricing Policy
With almost three quarters of our oil consumption met through imports, it is important to recognise that domestic prices of petrol and diesel are broadly in sync with global prices. Government to set up an expert group to advise on a viable and sustainable system of pricing petroleum products.
SARAL – II forms to be introduced early.
People’s ownership of PSUs
* While retaining at least 51% government equity in Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), people’s participation in disinvestment programmes to be encouraged.
* Public Sector Enterprises (PSE) such as banks and insurance companies to remain in public sector and will be given full support including capital infusion to grow and remain competitive.
* The threshold for non-promoter public shareholding for all listed companies to be raised in a phased manner.
* Scheduled commercial banks allowed setting up off-site ATMs without prior approval subject to reporting.
* A sub-committee of State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) to identify and formulate an action plan for providing banking facilities in under-banked/unbanked areas in the next three years. Rs1 billion set aside as one-time grant in-aid to ensure provision of at least one centre/Point of Sales (POS) for banking services in each of the unbanked blocks.
* Government has established Competition Commission of India, an autonomous regulatory body. An Appellate body headed by a retired judge of Supreme Court also constituted.
TOWARDS INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS)
* Allocation under NREGS increased by 144% to Rs391 billion in BE 2009-10 over BE 2008-09.
* To increase productivity of assets and resources under NREGA, convergence with other schemes relating to agriculture, forests, water resources, land resources, rural roads initiated. In the first stage 115 pilot districts selected for convergence.
National Food Security Act
National Food Security Act to be brought in to ensure entitlement of 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs.3 per kg to every family living below the poverty line in rural or urban areas. Food Security Bill to be put on the website of the Department of Food and Public Distribution for public debate.
* Allocation for Bharat Nirman increased by 45% in 2009-10 over BE 2008-09. Allocations under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) increased by 59% over BE 2008-09 to Rs120 billion in BE 2009-10.
* Under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), allocation increased by 27% to Rs70 billion.
* Allocation under Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) increased by 63% to Rs88 billion. Allocation of Rs20 billion made for Rural Housing Fund (RHF) in National Housing Bank (NHB) to boost the resource base of NHB for refinance operations in rural housing sector.
Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)
New scheme Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) with an allocation of Rs1 billion launched on pilot basis for integrated development of 1,000 villages having population of scheduled castes above 50%.
EMPOWERMENT OF WEAKER SECTIONS
* The Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) restructured as National Rural Livelihood Mission to make it universal in application, focused in approach and time bound for poverty eradication by 2014-15. In addition to capital subsidy at enhanced rate, interest subsidy to poor households to be provided for loans upto Rs100,000 from banks.
* There are over 2.2 million Women’s Self Help Groups linked with banks. Reach of SHGs to be widened to enrol at least 50% of all rural women in India as members of SHGs over the next five years.
* Corpus of Rashtriya Mahila Kosh to be increased to Rs5 billion from Rs100 billion over the next few years.
National Mission for Female Literacy to be launched with focus on minorities, SC, ST and other marginalized groups with the aim to reduce level of female illiteracy by half in three years.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
All ICD Services to be extended to every child under the age of six by March 2012.
Student Loans to Weaker Sections
To enable students from economically weaker sections to access higher education, a scheme to provide full interest subsidy during the period of moratorium introduced to cover loans taken from scheduled banks to pursue any of the approved courses of study in technical and professional streams from recoganised institutions in India.
Welfare of Minorities
* Plan outlay of Ministry of Minority Affairs enhanced to Rs17.4 billion from Rs10 billion, an increase of 74 per cent. This includes Rs9.9 billion for Multi-Sectoral Development Programme for Minorities, Grants-in-aid to Maulana Azad Education Foundation, National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation and pre and post matric scholarship for minorities.
* Allocations made for the new schemes of National Fellowship for Students from minority community and Grants-in-aid to Central Wakf Council for computerization of records of State Wakf Boards.
* Rs250 million each allocated for establishing new campuses at Murshidabad in West Bengal and Malappuram in Kerala by Aligarh Muslim University.
Welfare of workers in the unorganized sector
Action initiated to ensure implementation of social security schemes for occupation like weavers, fishermen and women, toddy tappers, leather and handicraft workers, plantation labour, construction labour, mine workers, bidi workers and rickshaw pullers. Necessary financial allocation will be made for these schemes.
New project for modernization of Employment Exchange in public private partnership to be launched so that a job seeker can register on line from anywhere and approach any employment exchange.
One handloom mega cluster each in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu and one powerloom mega cluster in Rajasthan to be set up. New mega clusters for carpets to be also set up in Srinagar (J&K) and Mirzapur (UP).
* Allocation under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) increased by Rs20.6 billion over interim BE 2009-10 to Rs120.7 billion.
* All BPL families to be covered under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY).
* Allocation under RSBY increased by 40% over previous allocation to Rs3.5 billion.
Environment and climate change
* In furtherance to National Action Plan on Climate Change, eight national missions representing a multi-pronged long-term and integrated approach to be launched.
* National Ganga River Basin Authority set up. Budgetary allocation under National River and Lake Conservation Plans increased to Rs5.6 billion from Rs3.6 billion in BE 2008-09.
* Special one-time grant of Rs1 billion given to Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun.
* Rs150 million each to be allocated to Botanical Survey of India and Zoological Survey of India. An additional amount of Rs150 million to be allocated for Geological Survey of India.
TOWARDS BUILDING ACOUNTABLE INSTITUTIONS
Improving Delivery of Public Services
* Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to set up online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian residents and provide enrolment and verification services across country. Provision of Rs1.2 billion made for this in the Budget.
* First set of unique identity number to be rolled out in 12 to 18 months.
* Additional amount of Rs4.3 billion provided over interim BE 2009-10 to modernise police machinery in the States.
* Additional amount of Rs22.8 billion proposed over interim BE 2009-10 for construction of fences, roads, flood lights on the international borders.
* Programme for housing to create 100,000 dwelling units for Central Para-military
* Forces personnel to be launched through innovative financing model.
One Rank One Pension for Ex-servicemen (OROP)
Based on the recommendation of the Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary on OROP, government has decided to substantially improve the pension of pre 1st January 2006 defence pensioners below officer rank and bring pre 10th October 1997 pensioners on par with post 10th October 1997 pensioners. The decisions to be implemented from 1st July 2009 and will cost more than Rs21 billion annually.
* Provision for the scheme ‘Mission in Education through ICT’ substantially increased to Rs9 billion and the provision for setting up and up-gradation of Polytechnics under the Skill Development Mission enhanced to Rs4.9 billion.
* Rs8.3 billion allocated for opening one Central University in each uncovered State.
* Rs.21.1 billion allocated for IITs and NITs which includes a provision of Rs4.5 billion for new IITs and NITs.
* The overall Plan budget for higher education is to be increased by Rs20 billion over interim BE 2009-10.
* Rs500 million allocated for Punjab University, Chandigarh. Plan allocation for Chandigarh to be suitably enhanced during the year to provide better infrastructure to the people of Chandigarh.
Commonwealth Games, 2010
Outlays to be stepped up from Rs21.1 billion in interim budget to Rs34.7 billion in regular Budget 2009-10.
Affordable housing is becoming a trend. Unitech, the country’s second-largest property developer, has announced what it calls Uni Homes – affordable apartments priced between Rs10 lakh - Rs30 lakh in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Lucknow. The company is planning to invest Rs1,700 crore this year to build these homes. Meanwhile, banks have started reducing their home loan rates which will make these flats a bit more affordable. Recently, ICICI Bank has reduced its floating rate for home loans to 12.75% from 13.25%.
Insurance companies offer unusual cover for businesses and individuals. Pallabika Ganguly...