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Major hike in general budget
July, 04th 2009

Though under tremendous pressure to manage resources, the UPA government in its second innings is expected to enhance social sector and infrastructure spending in its budget for 2009-10, in line with its strategy to beat the impact of global economic downturn.

Sources pointed out that UPA-II budget is all set to provide an additional Rs 40,000 crore gross budgetary support (GBS) from the interim budget (Rs 2,85,000 crore) and a significant increase of Rs 81,617 crore from the last fiscal (Rs 2,43,386 crore) for development programmes.

According to top government sources, the sectors likely to get major focus would be social sector and infrastructure which will get major chunks of the additional allocations.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, reiterating the government's commitment to give a boost to economic activity in rural areas, is expected to enhance further funding to the rural sector with an additional Rs 10,000 crore going to meet the growing demand of the flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) which turned out to be major vote-catcher for UPA.

Sources indicate that expansion of the programme as well as raising the wages under NREGA have been kept in abeyance since the scheme is already taking around 12% of the national spending.

Another pet scheme during UPA's last tenure -- the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), which also found mention in the President's address -- is likely to get an additional Rs 1,000 crore so as to provide better health services to the rural India. This will be in addition to the Rs 12,070 crore already allocated in the interim budget.

With renewed focus on winning rural masses, the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) is likely to get an additional Rs 1,500 crore which has already been allotted Rs 6,000 crore in the interim budget. The scheme will focus on house-to-house electrification which would, in turn, boost rural economy, sources said.

The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana is likely to be allocated Rs 1,100 crore. Under the scheme, the government envisages setting up of six new AIIMS-like institutions and upgradation of 13 existing government medical colleges. A provision of Rs 647.92 crore had been made for the scheme in the interim budget.

Another flagship programme, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which has seen initial successes and is considered important for modernising urban areas, will get an additional Rs 1,200 crore against Rs 11,842 crore allocated in the interim budget. A chunk of this money would go for providing housing for the urban poor, sources said.

The flagship programmes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme and the rural sanitation programme, may not get a substantial hike in allocations beyond what was given in the interim budget. SSA had got an impressive allocation of Rs 13,100 crore while Rs 8,000 crore was given for the Mid-day Meal Scheme. The rural sanitation programme had got Rs 1,200 crore in the interim budget.

With the President highlighting the need to focus on women's literacy and quality education, the government is likely to earmark Rs 7,000 crore to set up model schools in educationally backward blocks of the country and improve quality of education under SSA.

Also, a special allocation of Rs 8,500 crore may come in for setting up of eight new IITs and 16 new central universities in the coming budget.

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