Rs 30,000 crore via agri cess will go to states to improve APMC infra: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday clarified that the Union Budget proposal of collecting Rs 30,000 crore through Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess will go to states so that mandi infrastructure can be improved. 

Amid ongoing protests by farmers and the Opposition to repeal controversial farm laws, Sitharaman said that not even one Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) has been shut in any state, and instead the Budget makes provision to strengthen such market places for farmers. She was replying to a general debate on the Budget for 2021-22 in the Lok Sabha. 

Taking a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Sitharaman said that the United Progressive Alliance government can take credit for MGNREGA, but at the same time should own up to mismanagement in the rural employment scheme.

“The moment schemes are given birth, they are misused to favour cronies,” she said. “Hum do humaare do” comes here, she added.

Gandhi had taken a dig at the BJP government earlier for promoting "crony capitalism", calling the government "hum do humaare do".

She said the Congress government made huge budget allocations for the scheme, but not utilised the allocated amount. “Either they don’t care for it or they give their cronies and actually forget the workers,” she said.

Rs 1.11 trillion has been the increased allocation for MGNREGA for the ongoing financial year,  but until April it may be utlised only to the extent of Rs 90,000 crore, she said. However, the allocation and utilisation has been the highest ever, she added.

Sitharaman said the government’s cronies are the common people of the country, and those for whom schemes were announced for making toilets, houses, providing electricity, among others.

The PM-SVANidhi scheme is aimed at supporting street vendors, and the benefit of extending capital loans of Rs 10,000 has been extended to street vendors. “They are not anybody’s cronies, leave alone our cronies, they are not even your cronies,” she said.

The relief measures announced by the government to tide over the pandemic were “tailor made” and may be completely different, but has served India better than what the government was advised-to copy different countries, Sitharaman said.

To help small businesses, the insolvency provisions were suspended so that they were not declared insolvent and dragged to courts, she said. The government also extended working capital to them without any security which were later extended to anyone having a bank account, she said.

According to data shared by the government, both public and private banks have sanctioned loans worth Rs 2.39 trillion under Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme as on January 25.

Through a subordinate debt scheme, companies were given assistance to borrow and put it as his equity to revive their companies, she said.

When these schemes were extended, they were not mindlessly produced, but a lot of thinking went into it, Sitharaman said. “Every scheme was tailor made for a situation such as the pandemic.”

The government considered all advice, but designed the measures that our own industries suggested , she said.

"The approach the government has taken may be completely different, but has served India better than what we were advised to copy different countries," Sitharaman said.

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