Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, February 1, presented the last full budget of the Narendra Modi government before the 2024 general elections. The Minister announced a range of new initiatives, revised income tax slabs and customs duty, and sops for agriculture and energy transition.
The Union Budget 2023-24 document also listed the new allocations for core welfare schemes that drive socio-economic development. Here’s a roundup of how the budgetary allocations for some of the key schemes have changed-
MGNREGS: The government slashed the budget for its flagship rural employment scheme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) by nearly 32% compared to the ₹89,400 revised estimate for the scheme in the current year.
Also read | Explained | The funding and demand for MGNREGA
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was passed in 2005 and aimed at enhancing the livelihood security of households in rural areas. Under it, the MGNREGS is a demand-driven scheme that guarantees 100 days of unskilled work per year for every rural household that wants it, covering all districts in the country except those with a 100% urban population.
Food Subsidies: The Centre has allocated a little above ₹2 lakh crore for the food subsidy under the National Food Security Act (NFSA)- this includes funds for the Food Corporation of India, funds for decentralised procurement of grains by State agencies, and other logistical costs. Starting from January 1, 2023, the Centre had decided to provide 5 kg of free foodgrains per month to the 81.35 crore beneficiaries of the NFSA for one year starting from January 2023, rather than charging them a subsidised amount of ₹3 a kg of rice, ₹2 a kg of wheat and ₹1 a kg of coarse cereal as is usually done.
It was announced in December that the government was terminating the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which had provided an additional 5 kg of free grains every month to NFSA beneficiaries after being launched as an emergency measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 and received multiple extensions since. In a normal year, without COVID disruptions, the Centre’s food subsidy bill on account of the NFSA amounted to around ₹2 lakh crore, similar to the newly-announced allocation, but the PMGKAY had effectively doubled that sum for the past two years.
Jal Jeevan Mission: The Centre increased its budgetary allocation for the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) or the National Rural Drinking Water Mission by about 27% to ₹70,000 crore from the current year’s revised estimates of ₹55,000. The Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India.
The Jal Shakti Ministry tweeted last week that the government had provided 11 crore rural households with a tap water connection under the JJM scheme. Data from the Ministry’s dashboard suggest that 56% of the targeted 19.3 crore households had been covered.
The scheme has a total financial outlay of about ₹3.60 lakh crore, with the Centre funding 50% of the cost with States and Union Territories, except for Union Territories without a legislature, where it foots the entire bill, and northeastern and Himalayan States and Union Territories with legislatures, where it funds 90% of the bill.
Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY: The budget for the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — the national public health insurance fund, saw an increase of about 12% at ₹7,200 crore compared to the ₹6,000 crore revised estimates for the current year.
The Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY is a health insurance scheme launched in 2018, aiming to provide a health cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. It aims to over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families (or 50 crore beneficiaries) from the bottom 40% of the Indian population. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had said in December 2022, that 4.5 crore people had so far been empanelled under the scheme.
PM-Kisan: The allocation for the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme was the lowest in five years and remained the same as the revised estimates for the current year at ₹60,000 crore. PM-Kisan is a flagship Central scheme launched in 2019 for cash transfers ₹6,000 per year to eligible farmer families in three instalments of ₹2,000 each.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed while presenting the Union Budget on Wednesday that the government has made cash transfers totalling ₹2.2 lakh crore to around 11 crore farmers under the PM-Kisan scheme.
PM-POSHAN: The government has allocated a budget of ₹11,600 crore to the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman, or the rebranded version of the mid-day meal scheme for 2023-24. This is down 9.37% from the current year’s revised estimates of ₹12,800.
In 2021, while renaming the mid-day meal scheme to give hot cooked meals to 11.8 crore government school students from Class 1 to 8, the Centre had also decided to extend the scheme to 24 lakh children studying in balvatikas, the pre-primary section of government schools from 2022-23.
National Education Mission: A total of ₹38,965 crore was allocated to the National Education Mission for 2023-24, up 19.44% from the ₹32,612 crore revised estimates for the current year. The Mission is the umbrella scheme integrating major education-related schemes so education can be provided holistically and without segmentation from pre-primary to class 12. It includes the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan under the Right to Education and schemes for secondary and higher education as well those for teacher training and adult education.
PMAY: The Centre allocated ₹79,590 crore to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), up 3.19% from the current year’s revised estimates and 66% from the budget estimates. The PMAY aims at constructing houses in both urban and rural areas. PMAY-Gramin (rural) was initiated in November 2016 with a target of completing 2.7 crore houses and PMAY-Urban was initiated in June 2015 with a target of constructing 1.2 crore homes.
National Social Assistance Program: The budget allotted ₹9,636 to the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP), which provides monthly pension assistance to the elderly, widows, and persons with disabilities.
Development of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes: The budget allocated ₹4,295 crore and ₹9,409 crore to the umbrella programs for the development of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste communities respectively. While the ST development allocation saw a nearly 10% increase, the SC programme funding rose by close to 22%, compared to the current year’s revised estimates.