Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that the government’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (NREGA), will see an outlay of at least Rs 600 billion this fiscal year. This is higher than the Rs 550 billion allocated in the Union Budget 2018-19.
“To help the poorest, under the Rural Job Employment Scheme, close to Rs 600 billion, if not more, would be spent on MGNREGA this year. This is almost twice the amount spent by the UPA government,” Jaitley write in a blog titled ‘India’s rural sector’.
The blog comes as a response to the opposition’s allegations that the Modi government is ignoring rural India and agriculture sector, and last week's massive protest in the national capital by farmers from across the country.
Blaming the Congress for agrarian distress, Jaitley said the policy of the Narendra Modi government to pump in more resources into rural areas has improved agricultural productivity and the quality of lives of the people in villages.
“Removing the agrarian distress and improving the quality of life in rural areas cannot be done by slogans alone. 1971 onwards, the Congress policy was slogans and not resources,” Jaitley wrote.
The NDA government has pumped in resources into rural areas, which improved infrastructure, the quality of life of people living therein and increased agricultural productivity, he said. The policy measures have been taken to ensure remunerative prices to the farmers, the minister added.
“The past four-and-a-half years is just the beginning. If this level of investment with its annual increase is continued in the rural areas for at least the next two decades, we will be close to providing a quality of life and infrastructure in rural areas which is more urban-like,” Jaitley said.
Listing out sectors, he said the government has already increased expenditure in animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries, besides providing more funds for agriculture research and education.
“The Narendra Modi government assumed office on May 26, 2014. Stress in the agricultural sector was not born thereafter. It was inadequacy of the resources pumped into the agricultural sector by the Congress that had led to both an agrarian distress and an inadequate quality of life in the rural areas.
"The NDA government planned a multi-pronged strategy to improve the quality of life in Indian villages to enlarge quantum of investment and to make the Indian farmer self-sufficient and farming remunerative rather than be only dependent on state agencies," Jaitley said.