Despite limited fiscal space, finance minister Arun Jaitley has said that the government will do its best to boost farm sector growth.
“The concerns of the agriculture sector are high on the priority of the government. Despite the constraints of the economy as it exists today, the government will try its best to boost this sector,” said Jaitley at a pre-Budget meeting with agriculture experts on Thursday.
The minister’s comments come at a time when farm sector productivity is literally under a cloud due to concerns over the El Nino impacting monsoon rains.
Agriculture experts also called upon the government to provide a 50 per cent higher minimum support price (MSP) over the cost of production to farmers, which was one of the big ticket promises of the BJP. Other suggestions included boosting investment in the sector, upgrading farm technologies and issuing bonds to fund incomplete irrigation projects, besides focusing on market reforms in the Budget.
“The BJP manifesto on agriculture is very comprehensive and it calls for greater investment,” said agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan, who attended the two-hour meeting.
NGOs ask for more social spending
In a pre-Budget meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, social sector groups have demanded a higher budgetary allocation for the 2.68 crore disabled population, simplification of grant procedures and their timely release.
They also sought help in making NGOs viable and also suggested greater focus on financial inclusion by setting-up of a special purpose vehicle by PSU banks, universalising pension for all the poor and extension of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna to all districts.
“We may have been implementing the various social sector programmes but there is need to upgrade them and their delivery mechanisms and also provide adequate interventions within the fiscal space available,” Jaitley said in the meeting, according to the official release. (ENS)