NEW DELHI: Many of the announcements Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made on Friday could be traced back to previous Budget speeches.
In one case — the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) — Sitharaman acknowledged the plan had already been announced in the Union Budget.
“But, clearly the amounts and the provisioning, and also making sure that critical gaps are getting filled, are all now getting through. And we are announcing it for execution immediately,” she said on Friday, adding Rs 20,000 crore would be set aside for this.But, the PMMSY does not find any mention in the most recent Union Budget speech delivered in February 2020. It was, in fact, announced in the previous one — made in July 2019.
Similarly, quite a few other measures announced in the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package have already been mentioned in earlier Budgets.
On Thursday, Sitharaman had announced 2.5 crore new farmers would be issued with Kisan Credit Cards for concessional credit access. This would cover all PM-KISAN beneficiaries, she added, and result in Rs 2 lakh crore of additional credit disbursal. She had also announced that NABARD would extend an additional Rs 30,000 crore to regional rural banks and rural cooperative banks.
Similar plans find mention in the Union Budget speech for FY21 delivered in February this year. On page 8, point 23 (12) of the speech copy (downloadable from www.indiabudget.gov.in) reads: “Non-Banking Finance Companies and cooperatives are active in the agriculture credit space. The NABARD re-finance scheme will be further expanded. Agriculture credit target for 2020-21 has been set at Rs 15 lakh crore. All eligible beneficiaries of PM-KISAN will be covered under the KCC scheme”.
On Friday, the first measure announced was a Rs 1 lakh crore fund for strengthening farm-gate and aggregation point infrastructure. “(These) are cold chains, post-harvest management infra, yards… Entrepreneurs, start-ups who are now looking at facilitating by procuring from farmers and reaching out with value addition to global markets don’t have this infra. This fund will address that issue and will be created at the earliest,” she said.
In the February 2020 Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the Central government’s intention to strengthen agri-supply chains.
Point 23(5) on page 7 of the speech copy reads: “India has an estimated capacity of 162 million MT of agri-warehousing, cold storage, reefer van facilities etc. NABARD will undertake an exercise to map and geo-tag them. In addition, we propose creating warehousing, in line with Warehouse Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) norms. Our government will provide Viability Gap Funding for setting up such efficient warehouses at the block/taluk level. This can be achieved, where States can facilitate with land and are on a PPP mode. Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) shall undertake such warehouse building on their land too.”
The finance minister on Friday also recalled that the National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), with a commitment of over Rs 13,000 crore, has “from January this year” tagged and vaccinated 1.5 crore cows and buffaloes.
Sitharaman said the foot and mouth disease control programme forms the basis of her next announcement, which would relate to the building of animal husbandry capacities.
The above mentioned plan allocating Rs 13,383 crore toward the pre-existing programme had actually been approved by the Union Cabinet last summer — at its very first meeting after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The minister said on Friday that a Rs 15,000 crore fund would be set up for building animal husbandry capacities.
“Animal husbandry, especially the dairy sector, can now really take advantage,” Sitharaman said, noting that they could build on the gains from the disease control programme. The presentation further explained that the government aims to support “private investment in Dairy Processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure”.
The Rs 15,000 crore fund is new. But, the government had expressed broad intentions to double dairy processing capacities by 2025 in the Union Budget 2020-21.Point 23 (13) in page 8 of the budget speech copy reads: “Our government intends to eliminate Foot and Mouth disease, brucellosis in cattle and also peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in sheep and goat by 2025. Coverage of artificial insemination shall be increased from the present 30% to 70%. MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) would be dovetailed to develop fodder farms. Further, we shall facilitate doubling of milk processing capacity from 53.5 million MT to 108 million MT by 2025.”
Blast from the past
In the February 2020 Budget speech, the FM announced the government’s intention to strengthen agri-supply chains. “...we propose creating warehousing, in line with Warehouse Development and Regulatory Authority norms. Our government will provide Viability Gap Funding for setting up such efficient warehouses at the block/taluk level,” she said