The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, while announcing the General Budget 2018-19 in Parliament today announced important measures to give a boost to livelihoods in rural areas of the country. “As my proposals outlined indicate, focus of the Government next year will be on providing maximum livelihood opportunities in the rural areas by spending more on livelihood, agriculture and allied activities and construction of rural infrastructure”, the Minister said.
Jaitley informed that in 2018-19, for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas, total amount to be spent by various ministries will be Rs.14.34 lakh crore, including extra-budgetary and non-budgetary resources of Rs.11.98 lakh crore. Apart from employment due to farming activities and self employment, this expenditure will create employment of 321 crore person days, 3.17 lakh kilometers of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses, 1.88 crore toilets, and provide 1.75 crore new household electric connections besides boosting agricultural growth.
Further, the Government substantially increased the allocation of National Rural Livelihood Mission to Rs. 5,750 crore in 2018-19. Jaitley said that loans to self-help-groups (SHGs) of women increased to about Rs 42,500 crore in 2016-17, growing 37 per cent over previous year. The Government is confident that loans to SHGs will increase to Rs 75,000 crore by March, 2019, the Minister added.
Strengthening the Ground water irrigation scheme under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana – Har Khet ko Pani – the Government allocated Rs 2600 crore for this purpose. This would provide assured irrigation in 96 deprived irrigation districts where less than 30 per cent of the land holdings get that presently, the Minister said.