15 FEB : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the interim general budget which will be presented in the Lok Sabha by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday.
Dr Singh went through the interim budget related papers and after formally signing them, forwarded them to President Pratibha Patil, a PMO spokesman said.
"The Prime Minister also approved the interim budget speech," the spokesman added.Mukherjee, who is holding additional charge of the finance portfolio, met the Prime Minister earlier in the day and discussed budget-related issues with him.
Though this is an interim budget, coming as it does, in an election year, people have a lot of expectations. Economists believe there will be more social sector allocation of resources.
Economists believe the budget will focus on the common man’s concerns of education and health, and on macro concerns of agriculture and infrastructure
In a bid to fight global slowdown and gearing up for the forthcoming elections, the UPA government’s interim Budget is likely to step up expenditure on its flagship programmes, rural development and housing, doubling the fiscal deficit to 5 per cent during 2009-10.
Mukherjee is also likely to announce short-term measures for exporters reeling under the impact of a global slowdown.The government in the last Budget has fixed the fiscal deficit for the current fiscal at 2.5 per cent of GDP, which is likely to be raised to 5 per cent for the next fiscal, primarily on account of higher allocations towards the government’s flagship schemes like the Bharat Nirman and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
To provide focus on urban infrastructure, the government may expand the ambit of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to include more districts.
At present, the scheme is operational in about 60 mission cities.
The other focus of the Budget is likely to be on rural development which may witness allocations going up to more than Rs 55,000 crore from Rs 39,000 crore, an increase of over 40 percent.