Education, Health and Social Protection
The Finance Minister said that estimated budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection for 2018-19 is Rs.1.38 lakh crore against estimated expenditure of Rs.1.22 lakh crore in 2017-18 .
On education front, Shri Jaitley announced setting up of Ekalavya Model Residential School on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas to provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment by 2022 in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons with special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development. To step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions, a major initiative named ‘‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’’ with a total investment of Rs.1,00,000 crore in next four years was announced . He said that a survey of more than 20 lakh children has been conducted to assess the status on the ground, which will help in devising a district-wise strategy for improving quality of education. To improve the quality of teachers an integrated B.Ed. programme for teachers will be initiated. Shri Jaitley said, the Government would launch the ‘‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)’’ Scheme this year. Under this, 1,000 best B.Tech students will be identified each year from premier institutions and provide them facilities to do Ph.D in IITs and IISc, with a handsome fellowship. Allocation on National Social Assistance Programme this year has been kept at Rs. 9975 crore.
The Finance Minister announced the world’s largest government funded health care programme titled National Health Protection Scheme to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage upto 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. He also committed Rs 1200 crore for the National Health Policy, 2017, which with 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. The Government also decided to allocate additional Rs.600 crore to provide nutritional support to all TB patients at the rate of Rs.500 per month for the duration of their treatment. Shri Jaitley said, the government will be setting up 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country.
On cleaning the Ganga, the Finance Minister said, a total of 187 projects have been sanctioned under the Namami Gange programme for infrastructure development, river surface cleaning, rural sanitation and other interventions at a cost of Rs.16,713 crore. 47 projects have been completed and remaining projects are at various stages of execution. All 4465 Ganga Grams – villages on the bank of river – have been declared open defecation free. He said, the government has identified 115 aspirational districts taking various indices of development in consideration for making them model districts of development.
Infrastructure and Financial Sector Development
Emphasising that infrastructure is the growth driver of economy, the Finance Minister estimated that investment in excess of Rs.50 lakh crore is needed to increase growth of GDP and connect the nation with a network of roads, airports, railways, ports and inland waterways. He announced increase of budgetary allocation on infrastructure for 2018-19 to Rs.5.97 lakh crore against estimated expenditure of Rs.4.94 lakh crore in 2017-18.
The Government has made an all-time high allocation to rail and road sectors and is committed to further enhance public investment. The Prime Minister personally reviews the targets and achievements in infrastructure sectors on a regular basis. Using online monitoring system of PRAGATI alone, projects worth 9.46 lakh crore have been facilitated and fast tracked.
To further boost tourism, the Budget proposes to develop ten prominent tourist sites into Iconic Tourism destinations by following a holistic approach involving infrastructure and skill development, development of technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing.
Under the Bharatmala Pariyojana, about 35000 kms road construction in Phase-I at an estimated cost of Rs.5,35,000 crore has been approved.
The Budget proposes to expand the airport capacity more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative – NABH Nirman. Under the Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the Government last year, 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads would be connected.
*Disclaimer:- All the information is taken from the press release released by the government after the announcement of budget.
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