More money for social schemes in 2019 run-up

-The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Several social sector schemes, such as MGNREGA, housing, irrigation, education and connectivity, are expected to see a significant increase over the next two financial years as the government ramps up spending in key areas ahead of the 2019 elections.

According to the medium-term expenditure framework statement tabled in Parliament by finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, the Centre's total spending is set to reach Rs 26 lakh crore in 2019-20, up from around Rs 21.5 lakh crore estimated in 2017-18, an increase of around 21%. Government spending on social sector schemes is expected to increase in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.

But the government has promised to stick to the path of keeping public finances in shape and committed itself to fiscal consolidation. The government has budgeted Rs 48,000 crore for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme in the current fiscal. This is likely to go up to Rs 55,000 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 60,000 crore by 2019-20, an increase of over 25% from the current year's estimate.

Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (urban) will see an increase of over 115% by 2019-20 from this year's Rs 6,043 crore to Rs 13,000 crore.

Infrastructure ministries such as railways, road and highways are also expected to see a rise in their spending in 2018-19 to 2019-20. The finance ministry said the statement included some select social sector schemes to give a focus to the spending pattern.

The government's capital expenditure is likely to rise by 25% to Rs 3.9 lakh crore in 2019-20 while the outlay on defence will rise by 22%, according to the statement. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, a key scheme for rural irrigation, will witness an 86% jump by 2019-20 from the current year's level of Rs 2,150 crore. Spending on the rural health mission will increase to Rs 36,000 crore by 2019-20 from Rs 21,188 crore.

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The Times of India, 11 August, 2017,

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