Budget support likely to go up by Rs 2,000 crore
Under pressure from various ministries and the PMO, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh has agreed in principle to increase GBS by about Rs 2,000 crore.Updated: Feb 18, 2003 14:34 IST
Under pressure from various ministries and the PMO, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh has agreed in principle to increase the gross budgetary support by about Rs 2,000 crore from the Rs 117,500 crore announced by him earlier.
Senior cabinet ministers and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K.C. Pant seem to have prevailed upon the prime minister to intervene on the issue. Owing to the mounting pressure, sources said, the finance minister agreed to revise the GBS upwards to Rs 119,500 crore for 2003-04.
The sectors that are likely to benefit from this revision include science and technology, biotechnology, atomic energy and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (education for all campaign) of the human resources development ministry.
The finance ministry officials said this hike is not possible unless corners are cut elsewhere. The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman had earlier sought an increase of at least Rs 5,000 crore.
Pant had argued that taking inflation into consideration, the GBS, in real terms did not undergo any hike. This is against an aggregate annual 10 per cent hike budget support during the last 15 years, it was pointed out.
What seems to have clinched the issue in favour of hiking the GBS is the needs of the atomic energy department, where the construction of eight nuclear power plants would be delayed as the department would not be able to use the Russian assistance for want of matching Indian contribution.
This has been pointed out by Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar to both the Planning Commission and the finance ministry. As per the earlier proposal, the budgetary support would have been Rs 1,919 crore for 2003-04 against Rs 2,438 crore provided in the current fiscal. The Russian credit has been hiked manifold to Rs 881 crore for 2003-04 as against Rs 187 crore provided in this fiscal for nuclear power reactors.
Human Resource Development Minister Murali Manohar Joshi had also expressed distress over the lower allocation for the universalisation of education.
First Published: Feb 18, 2003 13:22 IST