THE last full Budget of the UPA government is likely to see an estimated 17% jump in the gross budgetary support (GBS), providing for over Rs 2,39,000 crore as public expenditure. It is understood that the Prime Minister Office (PMO) has in-principle approved the final fund allocation from the budget. The focus of the budetary support will clearly be on the social sector.
Sectors like railways, urban infrastructure and power — which are capable to generate their own resources — would have to bear a cut in their share to enable diversion of funds to priority areas like health, education and rural development. The allocation of funds assumes significance in the light of elections next year.
Even as ministry-wise allocation of funds is being worked out by the Planning Commission, its is expected that certain ministries would get the lion’s share. The list includes names of agriculture and cooperation ministry, ministry of health, ministry of women & child welfare, higher education, ministry of social justice & empowerment, ministry of tribal affairs, ministry of urban employment & poverty alleviation. They may get a double digit growth in their budgetary allocations for 2008-09 compared to current year.
According to an official source, the government has almost finalised the GBS for 2008-09 which is expected to be 16-17% up from the current year’s figure of Rs 205,100 crore. The finance ministry had initially pegged the budgetary suppport at a lower amount of Rs 2,28,725 crore against a total demand of Rs 3,44,761 crore put forth by the various ministries.
According to the convention, ministries put their demands (of fund requirement in a fiscal) to the Planning Commission. The Commission prunes it and send the derived number (GBS) to the finance ministry. The finance ministry which is responsible for doing the belance act between government’s revenues and expenditures gives in its recommendations on the proposed spend. The final decision on the GBS which in a way lays down the expenditure on various government programmes is taken by the Prime Minister.