1.46 lakh establishments registered under new employment subsidy scheme: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on February 12 that 1.46 lakh establishments had registered under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana’, that is aimed at incentivising employers and employees in order to push job creation.

Replying to the debate on the Union Budget 2021-22 in Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said that 1.78 lakh people who had lost their jobs during the lockdown were coming back to employment under the scheme, along with 7.7 lakh new joinees into the workforce. She said the data was till February 1.

The scheme was first announced by Sitharaman in November as part of a pre-Diwali set of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ announcements, to revive the economy. Under the scheme, the Centre proposes to pay 12 percent employees’ contribution and employers’ contribution – 24 percent of wages – towards employment provident fund (EPF) for new employees in establishments employing up to 1,000 employees for two years.

Sitharaman said that under the scheme, Rs 2,567 crore had already been credited upfront into the EPFO accounts of 38.82 lakh eligible employees.

Speaking on the fiscal roadmap of the government, the Finance Minister said: “We have not hurried to say that next year the fiscal deficit will come down to something which we will like to see. We are going to be careful about how we come down that fiscal path without affecting or creating any hurdles to growth.”

In the budget, Sitharaman set a fiscal deficit target of 6.8 per cent of GDP for 2021-22, which the government gradually aims to bring down to less than 4.5 per cent by 2025-26.

The Finance Minister defended lower allocation for the flagship scheme PM Kisan for 2021-22 compared to 2020-21, and said it was because West Bengal had not participated in the scheme.

For the current year, the revised outlay for PM Kisan is Rs 65,000 crore compared with budgeted estimate of Rs 75,000 crore. For 2021-22, the budget estimate has been kept at Rs 65,000 crore as well.

“When we allocated Rs 75,000 crore in the February 2020 Budget, we had assumed participation of all the states. 69 lakh farmers in West Bengal have not received funds from PM Kisan. That is why the estimates have been lowered,” she said.

Sitharaman also said that out of the revised allocation of Rs 1.11 lakh crore for NREGA for 2020-21, Rs 90,469 crore had already been utilized, the highest ever for any year, necessitated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Finance Minister said that out of the Rs 5.54 lakh crore capital expenditure estimated for 2021-22, railways would get 53 per cent and road construction would get 32 per cent.