Budget 2022: Nirmala Sitharaman Says Money Going To Address Rural Distress In Different Ways

Finance Minister urged industries to increase private investments and utilize the w scale up on growth as the economy recovers

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, center, and other members of the Finance Ministry in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)</p></div>
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, center, and other members of the Finance Ministry in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said Budget 2022's healthy capex spend will boost growth through a multiplier effect, and the government is using other measures to alleviate rural distress.

“Rural distress is being addressed in various ways, not just DBT (direct benefit transfers) to farmers,” Sitharaman said while addressing industry leaders at CII National Council's post-budget interaction on Saturday.

While allocation to capex rose, outlays for some of the welfare schemes and subsidies have fallen in budget proposals for 2022-23. The outlay for the rural jobs guarantee scheme or MNREGA is Rs 73,000 crore, the same as FY22 before it was increased to Rs 98,000 crore owing to higher job demand.

“MGNREGA is demand driven. If there is a demand, the government will increase it (the allocation)," Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj said while answering a query. "We hope industries will also employ more this year.”

Sitharaman said the government has increased allocation for micronutrients from Rs 26,000 crore to Rs 43,000 crore, and also bore the price rise in fertilisers.

"Money is going to them (rural economy) in different ways such as poshan abhiyaan, housing, cooking gas, electricity, health," she said "We are ensuring rural self-help groups are given seed money for corpus and also supporting procurement and storage (of farmer produce) can happen through FPOs at the local level.”

The finance minister also referred to the e-sharm portal to help formalise informal labour.

“Labour, especially semi-skilled, has remained largely informal, and during the pandemic through this portal they have been gradually formalised," she said. "The government expected to reach 28-30 crore registrations and we’re already reaching the figure,” she said.

Sitharaman urged companies to invest and use the window of opportunity to scale up growth as the economy recovers.