Indian Budget 2008-09- Full Text-Feb 29, 2008
100. India is poised to reap a 'demographic dividend' because the size of its working age population will increase from about 77.5 crore in 2008 to a likely peak of 95 crore in 2026. The 'dividend' can prove illusory if the workforce does not acquire the skills to support a knowledge and technology driven economy.
Skill Development Mission
101. Today, skill development programmes are diffused and administered by a number of ministries/departments. I have no intention of interfering with these sector-specific programmes. However, there is a compelling need to launch a world-class skill development programme, in mission mode, that will address the challenge of imparting the skills required by a growing economy. Both the structure and the leadership of the mission must be such that the programme can be scaled up quickly to cover the whole country. Hence, I propose to establish a non-profit corporation and entrust the mission to that corporation. It is my intention to garner about Rs.15,000 crore as capital from Governments, the public and private sector, and bilateral and multilateral sources. I shall begin by putting Rs.1,000 crore as Government's equity in the proposed non-profit corporation.
Industrial Training Institutes
102. The upgradation of ITIs is proceeding apace. Under the World Bank assisted scheme, 238 ITIs are undergoing upgradation. Under the PPP scheme, 309 ITIs in 29 States have been identified with corresponding industry partners and agreements have been signed in 244 cases. In anticipation of upgrading 300 more ITIs in 2008-09, I have set apart Rs.750 crore.
103. I am concerned by the rate of attrition in the defence forces, especially at the officer level. Sainik Schools have played a unique role as recruiting and training ground of future leaders of the defence forces. I propose to make an allocation of Rs.44 crore at the rate of Rs.2 crore each to the 22 Sainik Schools for immediate improvement of infrastructure including classrooms, laboratories, libraries and facilities for physical education.
Public Distribution System
104. A sum of Rs.32,667 crore is being provided next year for food subsidy under the Public Distribution System (PDS) and other welfare programmes. Strengthening the PDS would mean adequate supplies, reasonable subsidies and efficient delivery of the subsidized food. An idea that has been growing is to deliver subsidies to the target group through smart cards. Finally, I have found two willing partners - the State of Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. They will introduce, on a pilot basis, a smart card based delivery system to deliver food grains under the PDS in Haryana and Chandigarh, respectively. I thank the Chief Minister of Haryana and the Administrator of Chandigarh and promise them full support and cooperation in making a success of the pilot scheme.
Unorganised Sector Workers
105. The Unorganised Sector Workers' Social Security Bill, 2007 is before Parliament. In anticipation of the Bill being made into law, Government has introduced three schemes that are designed to provide social security to workers in the unorganised sector in a phased manner. These are:
• the Aam Admi Bima Yojana that will provide insurance cover to poor households. I am happy to announce that, in the first year of the Yojana, LIC will cover one crore landless households by September 30, 2008. I have already placed Rs.1,500 crore with LIC. In order to cover another one crore poor households in the second year, I propose to place an additional sum of Rs.1,000 crore with LIC in 2008-09;
• the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana that will be implemented with effect from April 1, 2008; and
• the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme that was enlarged with effect from November 19, 2007 to include all persons over 65 years falling under the BPL category. Consequently, the coverage has expanded from 87 lakh to 157 lakh beneficiaries. I propose to allocate Rs.3,443 crore in 2008-09 as against Rs.2,392 crore in 2007-08.
Housing for the Poor
106. Housing for the poor is one of the six elements of Bharat Nirman and is implemented through the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY). Against a target of 60 lakh houses, 41.13 lakh houses have been constructed up to December 2007 and the cumulative number will be 51.77 lakh houses by end March 2008. Reflecting the higher cost of construction, I propose to enhance the subsidy per unit in respect of new houses sanctioned after April 1, 2008 from Rs.25,000 to Rs.35,000 in plain areas and from Rs.27,500 to Rs.38,500 in hill/difficult areas. The subsidy for upgradation of houses will be increased from Rs.12,500 per unit to Rs.15,000. A beneficiary will still need own funds to complete the house. Public sector banks will be advised to include IAY houses under the differential rate of interest (DRI) scheme and lend up to Rs.20,000 per unit at an interest rate of 4 per cent.
107. I propose to increase the allocation for Defence by 10 per cent from Rs.96,000 crore to Rs.105,600 crore. I have assured the Raksha Mantri that any further amount needed for the Defence Forces, especially for capital expenditure, will be provided.
Backward Regions Grant Fund
108. The Backward Regions Grant Fund was given Rs.5,800 crore in the current year. Having regard to the pace of expenditure, I propose to keep the allocation for the next year at the same level. I may add that nearly 45 per cent of the amount is likely to be allocated to the States of Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.
109. In the Budget Speech last year I had announced the decision of the Government 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. Work is in progress. Even while adhering to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility" we can - and we must - do a number of things in our self-interest. We can promote clean technology products; we can review fuel emission and efficiency regulations; we can replace wood by solar as the fuel of common use; we can encourage the use of gas which is the most benign hydrocarbon; we can set up a trading platform for carbon emissions; we can build sustainable greenfield cities; and we can do more. In order to explore and implement these and other ideas, Government proposes to establish a permanent institutional mechanism that will play a development and coordination role. Details of the institutional mechanism will be announced shortly.
Sixth Central Pay Commission
110. I have been informed that the Sixth Central Pay Commission will submit its report by March 31, 2008. I am confident that the report will meet the legitimate expectations of Government employees.
111. The Commonwealth Games are only 947 days away. As promised, we shall provide Rs.624 crore in 2008-09. I would urge the authorities concerned to adhere to the strict timelines and the quality standards.
Institutions of Excellence
112. For the fourth year in succession, I propose to make a special grant of Rs.100 crore each to three institutions of excellence. The awards for 2008-09 go to: (i) Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, Maharashtra; (ii) University of Mysore, Mysore; and (iii) Delhi University, Delhi.
India's Soft Power
113. India's music, literature, dance, art, cuisine and especially films are attracting huge interest around the world. This is the 'soft power' of India, and it must be projected in a sophisticated and subtle manner. I propose to provide Rs.75 crore to the Indian Council of Cultural Relations to design and implement a programme to achieve this objective.
114. The number 1,411 should ring the alarm bells. That is the number of tigers in India. The tiger is under grave threat. In order to redouble our effort to protect the tiger, I propose to make a one time grant of Rs.50 crore to the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The bulk of the grant will be used to raise, arm and deploy a special Tiger Protection Force.
Monitoring and Evaluation
115. Robust economic growth has thrown up many new challenges, among them the need to put in place effective monitoring, evaluation and accounting systems for the large sums of money that are disbursed by the Central Government to State Governments, district level agencies and other implementing agencies. I think we do not pay enough attention to outcomes as we do to outlays; or to physical targets as we do to financial targets; or to quality as we do to quantity. Government therefore proposes to put in place a Central Plan Schemes Monitoring System (CPSMS) that will be implemented as a Plan scheme of the Planning Commission. A comprehensive Decision Support System and Management Information System will also be established. The intended outcome is to generate and monitor scheme-wise and State-wise releases for about 1,000 Central Plan and centrally sponsored schemes in 2008-09.
116. Government also intends to strengthen evaluation. Some ministries have started concurrent evaluation. This needs to be supplemented by independent evaluations conducted by research institutions. The Planning Commission will authorise such evaluations of the major schemes and complete the task by the time of the mid-term review of the Eleventh Plan.