Pre-Poll Budget Offers no tax Relief, Measly Hike in Funds for Schemes Like MGNREGA
New Delhi: Presenting the pre-election interim budget of the Narendra Modi government in Parliament soon after the Ram Mandir consecration, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced focus on four sections – poor, women, youth and farmers -- hoping for the people to “again choose the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections with a resounding mandate.”
The full-fledged budget will be presented by the new government that comes to power after the elections scheduled to be held in April-May.
The interim budget is being presented at a time when the country’s total debt liabilities are estimated to increase at the end of 2024-2025 to Rs 183,67,132.46 crore, against Rs 168,72,554.17 crore at the end of 2023-2024 (RE). Of this, internal liabilities alone account for an estimated Rs 177, 92, 204 crore, as on March 31, 2025.
At a time when survey after survey has been flagging “unemployment” as the key concern of the country, especially youth, Sitharaman’s budget speech did not find any mention of the word or of any schemes or expenditure plan to create employment on the path to attaining Viksit Bharat by 2047.
Among the promises made, Sitharaman said two crore more house would be taken up in the next five years under the PM Awas Yojana (Grameen), rooftop solarisation to provide free 300 units of electricity to one crore households.
For urban poor, the Finance Minister said, “Our Government will launch a scheme to help deserving sections of the middle class “living in rented houses, or slums, or chawls and unauthorized colonies” to buy or build their own houses.” No target was given for this in the speech.
Among the other announcements are focusing on ‘encouraging” cervical cancer vaccine among girls aged 9-14, U-Win platform to make immunisation better, set up a committee to recommend setting up of more medical colleges, and extension of healthcare cover under Ayushman Bharat for all ASHA, Anganwadi workers and helpers.
The allocations for major schemes, such as the rural job guarantee scheme, MGNREGA, has been increased by only Rs 26,000 crore to Rs 86,000 crore (budget estimate) for 2024-25, from Rs 60,000 crore in 2023-24.
For Ayushman Bharat – PMJAY, the allocation has been raised by only Rs 300 crore, from Rs 7,200 crore (BE) to Rs 7,500 crore in 2024-25.
While the full Budget in July will give a clearer picture of the new government’s spending priorities, in the last financial year capital expenditure increased by 11.1% to over ₹ 11.18 lakh crore, or 3.4% of GDP (gross domestic product).
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