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In a big push for welfare of small entrepreneurs, poor farmers, pensioners and others, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday announced the setting up of a Micro Units Development Refinance Board (Mudra) Bank, with a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, to refinance micro institutions.
He also promised to raise the allocation under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) by Rs 5,000 crore, over and above the 2015-16 Budget estimate of Rs 34,669 crore. “This will help raise rural wages and give the scheme the highest ever allocation,” Jaitley said. The direct benefits transfer (DBT) scheme will be expanded to cover services beyond cooking gas subsidy..
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Jaitley also announced a universal social security scheme to provide accidental insurance of up to Rs 2 lakh for a premium of Rs 12 a year. He announced the Atal Pension Yojana, where the government will pay 50 per cent of premium, and a Prime Minister Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, which will provide an insurance cover of Rs 3 lakh with a premium of Rs 330 a year. The PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana will target people in the age group of 18-50 years.
Jaitley also announced the starting of a special scheme to provide assistance to senior citizens in purchasing physical aids and assistance.
For agriculture, the finance minister announced the expansion of the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, by increasing its allocation to Rs 5,330 crore in 2015-16, from Rs 1,000 crore in 2014-15.
The farm credit target for 2015-16 has been raised to Rs 8.5 lakh crore, and a National Agriculture Market will be established in consultation with the states by using the platform of NITI. The soil health card scheme of the Union agriculture ministry will be expanded to cover the entire country by the end of 2015-16.