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Indian Budget 2007-08- Full Text of Budget Speech

X. OTHER PROPOSALS


Defence Expenditure

98. I propose to increase the allocation for Defence to Rs.96,000 crore. This will include Rs.41,922 crore for capital expenditure. Needless to say, any additional requirement for the security of the nation will be provided.

Information Technology

99. Government has launched an ambitious programme for e-governance. The goal is to improve efficiency, convenience, accessibility and transparency in Government functions and take Government services to the common citizen. I propose to increase the allocation for e-governance from Rs.395 crore in 2006-07 to Rs.719 crore in 2007-08. The Central Government supports e-governance action plans at State levels, and I propose to increase the allocation for such support from Rs.300 crore in 2006-07 to Rs.500 crore in 2007-08. I also propose to provide Rs.33 crore for a new scheme of manpower development for the software export industry.

Backward Regions Grant Fund

100. The Backward Regions Grant Fund received Rs.5,000 crore in 2006-07. I propose to increase the allocation to Rs.5,800 crore in 2007-08. This will finance two components, one pertaining to 250 districts and the other pertaining to the special plan for Bihar. KBK districts of Orissa, which are included in the 250 districts, will continue to receive the same quantum of assistance as they have been receiving in the past.

Mumbai as a Financial Centre

101. The High Powered Expert Committee to make Mumbai a regional financial centre has submitted its report recently. I intend to place the report in the public domain and obtain feedback. It is my hope that we would be able to build a consensus on the key recommendations of the Committee, promote a world class financial centre in Mumbai, and realise the objective of making 'financial services' the next growth engine for India.

Vocational Education Mission

102. To sustain a high level of economic growth, it is essential to have a reservoir of skilled and trained manpower. Shortages have already emerged in a number of sectors. Moreover, we can take advantage of the demographic dividend thrown up by an increase in the working age population only if our young men and women have the required skills. The Prime Minister spoke of a Vocational Education Mission in his Independence Day address in 2006. A taskforce in the Planning Commission is chalking out strategies for vocational education programmes. Alternate models may be adopted, but the approach will be based on public-private partnership. I propose to make an initial provision of Rs.50 crore for beginning work on this mission.

Upgradation of ITIs

103. Honourable Members will recall that Government had taken up a programme for upgradation of 500 ITIs over five years beginning 2005. Revised courses in the first lot of 100 upgraded ITIs were started in August 2005 and in the second lot of 100 upgraded ITIs in August 2006. I expect that another 300 ITIs will be covered by August 2009. That would still leave 1,396 Government ITIs.

104. I propose that the 1,396 ITIs be upgraded into centres of excellence in specific trades and skills under public-private partnership. Under the proposed scheme, the State Government, as the owner of the ITI, will continue to regulate admissions and fees; the new management will be given academic and financial autonomy; and the Central Government will provide financial assistance by way of seed money. ITIs will be encouraged to start a second shift. Once a tripartite MoU is signed among the three stakeholders, I propose to grant an interest free loan up to Rs.2.5 crore to each ITI for upgradation and revision of courses. I seek the cooperation of State Governments in upgrading at least 300 ITIs every year, beginning 2007-08, under the PPP mode. I have kept aside Rs.750 crore for this purpose.

Employment for the Physically Challenged

105. Among the disadvantaged sections of the society are physically challenged persons. They face difficulties in obtaining regular employment. In order to incentivise employers in the organised sector to provide regular employment, I propose a scheme whereunder Government will reward the employer once the physically challenged employee is regularised and is enrolled under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees State Insurance (ESI). Under the scheme, Government will reimburse the employer's contribution to the EPF and ESI for the first three years. Government is ready to support the creation of about 100,000 jobs every year for physically challenged persons with a salary limit of Rs.25,000 per month. I estimate the cost to Government at Rs.150 crore per annum rising to Rs.450 crore per annum when the scheme is fully rolled out. I have therefore earmarked Rs.1,800 crore.

Debt Management Office

106. World over, debt management is distinct from monetary management. The establishment of a Debt Management Office (DMO) in the Government has been advocated for quite some time. The fiscal consolidation achieved so far has encouraged us to take the first step. Accordingly, I propose to set up an autonomous DMO and, in the first phase, a Middle Office will be set up to facilitate the transition to a full-fledged DMO.

Development Cooperation

107. In keeping with India's growing stature in international affairs, we must willingly assume greater responsibility in promoting development in other developing countries. At present, India extends development cooperation through a number of Ministries and agencies and the total sum is about US$ 1 billion per annum. It is felt that all activities relating to development cooperation should be brought under one umbrella. Accordingly, Government proposes to establish the India International Development Cooperation Agency (IIDCA). The Ministries of External Affairs, Finance and Commerce and other stakeholders will be represented on IIDCA.

Climate change

108. India is not a significant contributor to green house gas (GHG) emissions, nor will it be so in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, in line with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility", India has taken important steps to mitigate GHG emissions and adapt to climate change impact. India has also strongly promoted the clean development mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol and has the world's largest number of CDM projects. Nevertheless, India is among the countries more vulnerable to climate change. Hence, Government proposes to appoint an expert committee to study the impact of climate change on India and identify the measures that we may have to take in the future.

Commonwealth Games

109. India bid for and won for the city of Delhi the Commonwealth Games 2010. The nation was filled with pride when, under the guidance of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, we successfully hosted the Asian Games in 1982. We owe it to our people to make the Commonwealth Games an equally memorable event. I propose to provide in 2007-08 Rs.150 crore to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Rs.350 crore to the Delhi Government for the Games. Similarly, I propose to provide Rs.50 crore for the Commonwealth Youth Games 2008 to be held in Pune.

History and Culture

110. As we celebrate the 150th year of the First War of Independence and the centenary year of the Satyagraha Movement, our thoughts go to the institutions that continue the work of Gandhiji and other constructive work. I intend to set apart Rs.30 crore for four institutions whose work we gratefully acknowledge. These are Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad; Sevagram Ashram, Wardha; Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune; and Rajendra Smriti Sanghrahalaya, Patna. I also intend to provide Rs.20 crore to reposition the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi, as a major centre of intellectual activity.

111. The Ministry of Culture proposes to engage scholars from Indian and foreign institutions to work on specific projects. The terms of engagement will provide freedom and flexibility to the scholars. I intend to make an initial grant of Rs.5 crore to encourage this effort.

Institutions of Excellence

112. As in the last two years, I propose to make a special grant of Rs.100 crore to recognise excellence. Government has selected the Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, and each will be given Rs.50 crore.

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