Budget: Chidambaram budgets for polls, makes it a sop story
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With the UPA facing a litmus test in next year's general election and economic growth at a decade low, P Chidambaram's Budget 2013-14 is largely being seen as a populist one. And, not without reason, with the finance minister hardly camouflaging his attempt to win back the support of aam aadmi.
Presenting his eighth annual Budget in Parliament, P Chidambaram, while increasing the total expenditure (Plan and non-Plan) to Rs 16.65 lakh crore, tried to strike a chord with all major votebanks, doling out sops to women, youth, poor, minorities, disabled, elderly as well as the SCs and the STs.
Besides proposing a public sector bank that would lend mostly to women and their businesses, he also offered to set up a R1,000-crore fund in the wake of a spurt in crimes against them. "We have a collective responsibility to ensure the dignity and safety of women. We stand in solidarity with our girl children and women. And we pledge to do everything possible to empower them and keep them safe and secure," said Chidamabram.
While the Plan expenditure is pegged at R5,55,322 crore, non-Plan expenditure is estimated at R11,09,975 crore. He said R97,134 crore had been allocated to women welfare (gender budget), while child budget got R77,236 crore in 2013-14. He allocated R3,511 crore to the ministry of minority affairs, an increase of 12% over the BE and 60% over the RE of 2012-13.
The FM strived to project a 'politically correct image' in the times of a slowdown by hiking taxes on the super-rich, asking them to show a spirit of sacrifice a la Wipro's Azim Premji, who recently pledged R12,500 crore for charity. The minister indicated that the National Food Security Bill would be implemented in the next fiscal, committing an additional R10,000 crore towards the food subsidy bill of the next year.
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