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Central Plan gives top priority to social sector

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Special Correspondent

Energy, transport together account for nearly three-fourth of Plan size

NEW DELHI: The Union budget accords top priority to the social sector, followed by energy and transport that together account for nearly three-fourth of the total Plan size of Rs.3,19,992 crore, but more than half the financing would come from much-maligned public sector undertakings (PSUs).

Social services including education, housing and nutrition have got the largest allocation of Rs.83,950.69 crore out of the total Plan allocation and the transport sector has been given the maximum increase of 43.7 per cent in the outlays. With an increase of over 15 per cent in the budget allocation, the energy sector has been provided Rs.79,158.45 crore. The transport sector has been provided the third largest pool of resources of Rs.71,589.02 crore to be spent on development of railways, ports, shipping, civil aviation, roads and bridges and inland water transport.

The Finance Minister has proposed a Central Plan outlay worth Rs.20,342 crore for the rural development sector, Rs.79,158 crore for the energy sector, Rs.20,434 crore for industry and minerals.

He has proposed Rs.18,861 crore for the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Rs.33,153 crore for the Power Ministry and Rs.28,674 crorefor the Human Resource and Development Ministry.

Besides, he has proposed internal and extra budgetary support for the public enterprises to the tune of Rs.3,19,992 crore against Rs.2,44,229 crore currently. For communications, science and technology, irrigation and flood control, he proposed outlays worth Rs.25,812 crore, Rs.8,816 crore and Rs.507 crore, respectively.

Mr. Chidambaram has also proposed an outlay of Rs.707.50 crore for commercial crops as against Rs.378.77 crorein this fiscal. In the much-touted National Horticulture Mission, he sought to increase the present outlay by Rs.50 crore. He proposed that the outlay for Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme in 2007-08 would be Rs.11,000 crore as against the current outlay of Rs.7,121 crore.

Of the total budget plan at Rs.3,19,992.08 crore, an increase of 31 per cent over 2006-07, as much as Rs.165,053 crore would come from the PSUs in 2007-2008 representing an increase of Rs.47,334 crore. Within agriculture and rural development, bulk of the money Rs.13,320 crore would be spent on rural employment, followed by crop husbandry. The industry and minerals have also seen a big jump in Plan allocation to Rs.20,434.42 crore in 2006-07 (revised estimates) to Rs.20,434.42 crore. Within this group, the highest priority has been given to the iron and steel industry, followed by petrochemicals and village and small industries.

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