Finance minister Arun Jaitley began his pre-budget consultations across sectors on Thursday. In his representation to Jaitley on agriculture, the country's ace geneticist and Green Revolution leader M S Swaminathan made a strong pitch for a new fund to be set up for the women working in the agriculture sector, provision for Kisan TV, and soil testing in every panchayat, among others.
Apart from meeting the agriculture sector representatives, Jaitley also met trade bodies on Thursday. He is meeting the country's top business honchos on Friday (today). According to finance ministry officials, Swaminathan is believed to have told Jaitley that since a large number of rural women double up as agricultural labourers, there should be a fund to take care of them. He has also made a strong pitch for funding soil testing facilities in all village panchayats and irrigation facilities.
Interestingly, the agriculture ministry is formulating a national irrigation scheme, which is likely to be one of the flagship NDA programmes. Jaitley is most likely to allocate fund in his budget for the scheme. During the meeting one of the representatives pointed out that while the country seems to be more interested in finding out whether there is water on moon, not much of thought is going into how to feed over 125 crore people.
The pre-budget consultations will continue till next Tuesday. On Monday, Jaitley will meet all the state finance ministers. Sources say Jaitley is likely to extend an olive branch to the state finance ministers in form of the pending central sales tax cut compensation to move forward on Goods and Services Tax. But the meeting focus mostly on pre-budget consultations. On Tuesday, Jaitley will consult the economists on the current macroeconomic situation.
The budget is most likely to be presented in the first week of July, when the second session of the 16th Lok Sabha will be convened.