BJP poll promises may find mention in Sitharaman's maiden Budget speech

When Nirmala Sitharaman delivers her maiden Budget on July 5, Jal Jivan Mission, Matsya Sampada Yojana, national traders’ welfare board, and national warehousing grid for farmers could be some of the key inclusions of her speech. These were some of the promises made in the ruling BJP’s election manifesto.

As part of their Budget preparations, finance ministry officials are not calling all central government departments for consultations. A senior government official involved in Budget-making has told Business Standard: “We are only meeting departments that will have a direct bearing on implementation of the BJP’s poll promises.” 

These schemes will be allocated sums in the expenditure Budget and will see formal launches. But it is learnt that to keep the fiscal situation under check, most would see nominal sums allocated, enough to start work.

The allocations are expected to be ramped up in subsequent Budgets, Business Standard has learnt. 

As reported in Business Standard, the government will aim to maintain a fiscal deficit target of 3.4 per cent of GDP in 2019-20. The total size of the 2019-20 interim Budget was Rs 27.84 trillion. Officials expect the size of the full Budget to only rise marginally. 

“We will try and find room for new schemes through adjustments to existing expenditure commitments,” the official, quoted above, said.

The related ministries are meeting officials from the Department of Economic Affairs (under which comes the Budget Division) and Department of Expenditure to discuss expenditure requirements and determine allocations for the new schemes. Officials from the newly-renamed Jal Shakti Ministry, the Department of Fisheries, Agriculture Ministry, Rural Ministry, Commerce Ministry and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are expected to attend these meetings, among others.

In its manifesto, the BJP promised to ensure piped water — Nal me Jal — for every household by 2024. The BJP is giving a lot of political importance to this scheme. In arid states like Rajasthan, BJP workers and candidates, during the campaigning, were speaking of this scheme to rural voters. “Like Modiji brought cooking gas and electricity to your homes, he will bring tap water so you don’t have to fetch from wells,” was the common pitch.

The ruling party also promised Matsya Sampada Yojana, with an allocation of Rs 10,000 crore to ensure availability of storage and marketing tools and infrastructure like ice-boxes, and cold storages for small and traditional fishermen. “We will bring all fishermen under the ambit of all welfare programmes and social security schemes with expanded coverage for accident insurance,” the manifesto had said.

The manifesto also had mention of a national traders’ welfare board and create a national policy for retail trade. The manifesto also stated that the government would have a national warehousing grid and invest Rs 25 trillion in farm/rural productivity. Though only a small portion of this sum would find mention in the upcoming Budget, officials say. “The entire sum will not be spent by the centre. There will be PSUs and the private sector as well,” the official, quoted above, said.

The BJP has already met some of its poll promises. The expansion of PM Kisan to all landed farmers has lead to an additional outlay of roughly Rs 12,000 crore. Pension schemes for farmers and traders have also been launched.

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