Published On : Thu, Jan 31st, 2019

56 months on, Did BJP govt deliver on Budget 2014 promises?

In its first Budget presented to the Lok Sabha in July 2014, the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a number of laudable initiatives. These included the development of 100 smart cities, the overhaul of the petroleum and food subsidies, digitisation, and a scheme for the uplift of the girl child called Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.

Fifty-six months on, the government’s record in implementing these schemes and projects has been mixed. Take for example, the Smart Cities Mission, launched in June 2015 with the aim of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and also by modernising certain existing mid-sized cities. According to the Urban Affairs and Housing Ministry, while a total of 5,151 projects worth more than Rs 2 trillion have been identified for implementation, only 534 projects worth Rs 10,116 crore have been completed.

Digital India was yet another flagship scheme of the Modi government, which was announced in finance minister Arun Jaitley’s maiden budget. What gave it a huge fillip was demonetisation, which forced many people to go cashless for a while. There has been a significant growth in digital payments as a result. In fact, the Unified Payments Interface, one of the important initiatives under Digital India, has managed transactions worth more than Rs 1.02 trillion till December, 2018. It is live in 129 banks too, and has handled over 620 million transactions. The government has also been somewhat successful in reaching out to the tier-II and rest-of-India towns and nudging them towards digitisation.

However, the performance of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, touted as the government’s mega scheme for the welfare of the girl child, has been far from satisfactory. Less than 25 per cent of the total of Rs 644 crore allocated under it has been disbursed to districts and states. Over 19 per cent of the funds was not released, and more than 56 per cent of it was spent merely on publicising the scheme.

To reform LPG subsidies, the government launched the Pahal scheme across the country in January, 2015. This is currently considered the largest direct cash transfer scheme in the world and benefits over 230 million consumers. Under the scheme, LPG is sold to consumers at the market rate and the subsidy is directly credited to their bank accounts. The direct transfer of subsidy has reduced the diversion of subsidised LPG cylinders to commercial and industrial sectors, generated significant savings and reduced the annual LPG subsidy bill. Subsidy through direct benefit transfer (DBT) for LPG stands at Rs 20,880 crore till date, while for kerosene it is Rs 113 crore.

On food subsidy, although the NDA government expanded the National Food Security Act to cover the entire country (the previous government had partially implemented it in 13 states), the system of food subsidy itself has not been revamped.

Interim Budget 2019 The promise to set up four All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was partially met. While two such institutions have come up in Mangalapuri in Andhra Pradesh and Nagpur in Maharashtra, the other two — at Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath’s bastion Gorakhpur and Kalyani in West Bengal — are yet to get off the ground. This despite the fact that the Cabinet had cleared the two projects at a cost of Rs 1,011 crore and Rs 1,754 crore respectively.

Other institutes are similarly stuck at the project stage. The Jai Prakash Narayan National Centre for Excellence in Humanities, which was supposed to be set up in Madhya Pradesh, is yet to fructify. A National Centre for Excellence in Animation, Gaming and Special Effects to be set up in Mumbai has not come up either, even though the Information and Broadcasting ministry had roped in the Indian Institute of Mass Communication to oversee it. The Maharashtra government has already allocated 20 acres for the project.

However, the news gets better when it comes to the war memorial around India Gate in the national capital. Reported to be nearly ready, the memorial is spread over 40 acres and has four landscaped concentric circles — Amar Chakra (circle of immortality), Veer Chakra (circle of bravery), Tyag Chakra (circle of sacrifice) and Rakshak Chakra (circle of protection). The Prime Minister is likely to inaugurate it soon.