In the last Budget before the nation heads to polls, the government on 1 February announced a slew of populist measures to woo the middle class, farmers, small traders and pensioners.
Among the major announcements was Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
Presenting his maiden Budget in Parliament, Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said that the scheme will provide assured income support for small and marginal farmers.
“Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN), Rs 6000 per year will be transferred directly to each farmers’ bank accounts in three instalments for farmers with less than 2 hectares landholding,” he said,
Goyal said that the initiative will benefit 12 crore small and marginal farmers.
“At an estimated cost of Rs. 75,000 crore, this will enable farmers to earn a respectable living,” he said.
“The programme would be made effective from 1 December 2018 and the first instalment for the period up to 31 March 2019 would be paid during this year itself,” he said.
He said that the government has spent Rs 1.7 lakh crore in 2018-19 to provide cheap grains for farmers.
Goyal added that the government also took a “historic decision to increase minimum support price (MSP) by 1.5 times the production cost for all 22 crops. The Union Minister said that the move has been for the welfare of farmers and for doubling their income.
In a further relief to the farmers, Goyal said that repayment instead of rescheduling of crop loans farmers severely affected by natural calamities will now get 2 per cent interest subvention and additional 3 per cent interest subvention upon timely.
The farmers who will be covered under this new decision will be those who receive assistance under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
Regarding Animal Husbandry the Union Minister said, “I have increased the allocation for Rashtriya Gokul Mission to Rs.750 crore in the current year itself. I announce setting up of ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog; to upscale sustainable genetic upgradation of cow resources and to enhance production and productivity of cows.
He added that the Aayog will also look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cows.
Goyal said that the government has decided to create a separate Department of Fisheries.
“In the last Budget, our Government announced the facility of extension of Kisan Credit Card scheme (KCC) to Animal Husbandry and Fisheries farmers. Now, I propose to provide the benefit of 2 per cent interest subvention to the farmers pursuing the activities of animal husbandry and fisheries, who avail loan through Kisan Credit Card. Further, in case of timely repayment of loan, they will also get an additional 3 per cent interest subvention,” he said.
He said that the fiscal deficit as a proportion of GDP will be 3.4 per cent for the coming year, “as there is a need to provide for income support for farmers”.