The year 2013 would see the UPA government switching to poll-mode by putting big investments on fast-track and announcing popular schemes.
The first big-bang of the year would happen in January when recently constituted Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) — mandated to prescribe time limits for approvals and clearances by the ministries — would give directions for approvals to infrastructure and manufacturing projects worth Rs.40,000 crore.
The projects include dedicated rail corridors, new ultra-mega power plants, expansion of existing ports in Mumbai, Kandla and Visakhapatnam, Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and road projects.
"I think the CCI will send the first positive signal of 2013 for economic revival before the budget," a senior government functionary said.
Abhaya Agarwal, executive director of Ernst and Young, said the CCI approach would mean “short-term solutions” leading to "long-term" investor faith.
The general budget, the last one before 2014 general elections, would offer free generic medicines to the poor, initiate pilots in each district for universal health coverage scheme and cover entire poor population under the existing Rashtriya Swasth Bima Yojana.
Giving of a unique identification or Aadhaar number-enabled mobile phone, a bank account for each household, banking facility in each panchayat and bringing more schemes under direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme may also be announced in the budget.
Insurance bill and land acquisition bill may also get a push, government sources said.
In June, after the budget session, the government would announce its new poverty estimates claiming best ever annual reduction of two percentage points in number of poor in India.
Reason: doubling of average income of household between 2004 and 2012. "Except Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the poverty in absolute numbers had fallen in all states," a senior plan panel functionary said.
The last big bang before the elections is expected to be a meeting of National Development Council — a body of chief ministers — to showcase the its achievements. “The agenda could be inclusive growth,” a senior plan panel official said.
Amid this, the government would unleash Rs. 100 crore media blitzkrieg on its achievements in the last nine years.