Jaitley calls for more public spending on rural development

New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday called for increased public spending on rural development to boost domestic economic growth amid a global slowdown.

“Bad monsoon in the last two years has resulted in rural spending going down. In such a situation, the government needs to come forward and increase its spending. The pace of public spending has increased,” Jaitley said at an event organised here to mark 10 years of the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.

“If you look at the global situation, there is slow growth. The economies which were earlier compared with India, like South Africa, Brazil and Russia, are all growing slow. In a way, there is a negative growth rate, though the economies are recovering,” he said.

“We cannot control global events that impact us, but increasing demand in rural areas is in our hands,” the finance minister said. He added that revitalising the rural economy through road construction, electrification, irrigation and crop insurance is a priority for the government.

Speaking earlier, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh told the gathering that the decade-old MGNREGA scheme has been infused with a major dynamism by the NDA government.

“The Rs.33,000 crore allocation for the scheme in 2015-16 increased to almost Rs.37,000 crore. Ninety-four percent of the money for MGNREGA work has already been disbursed to the states,” the minister said.

“Over eight crore families have been given employment under MGNREGA scheme, and we plan to target 11 crore families next year,” he added.

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