In the second week of the Budget Session, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha took up a discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address and a general discussion on the Union Budget 2023-24.
During the discussion on the Motion of Thanks, several Members asked the government to bring a Women's Reservation Bill to ensure higher participation for women in Parliament and State Assemblies. Speaking on the Motion, the Women and Child Development Minister noted that of the 31 crore cancer screenings under Ayushman Bharat, 13 crore were utilised by women. Several members also raised their concern over the reduced allocation to MGNREGS. The Budgeted Estimate for MGNREGS in 2023-24 is Rs 60,000 crore, 32.9% less than the Revised Estimates for 2022-23 (Rs 89,400 crore).
During the general discussion on the Union Budget 2023-24 in Lok Sabha, several Members raised the issue of high unemployment in the country. Noting the reduced expenditure on subsidies, a Member stated that a large capital expenditure may not necessarily lead to job growth. In her response, the Finance Minister stated that the government has chosen to spend on capital expenditure for the recovery of the economy as it leads to job creation and multiplier effect. With respect to subsidies, she stated that the allocation to food and fertiliser subsidy was higher in the revised estimates of 2022-23 on account of high international prices.
General discussion on the Budget could not take place in Rajya Sabha on Thursday due to disruptions. On Friday, the House took up Private Members' Business before taking up the budget discussion. Also on Friday, one Member was suspended by the Chairperson for the remainder of the session, or until the Privilege Committee submits its report on the matter.
Next week, both Houses of Parliament are scheduled to adjourn for about four weeks. During the recess, Parliamentary Standing Committees will examine the Demands for Grants of individual ministries.
Note that PRS analyses of the demands for grants for key ministries will also be published in the coming weeks. Our team will also be analysing the state budgets for several states. Please follow us on Twitter to be updated about these.
Proceedings in Rajya Sabha were ongoing at the time of posting this note.
Numbers to Note
7,123 Route Kilometres
The Railways Minister informed Lok Sabha on Wednesday that 7,123 Route Kilometres have been electrified during the calendar year 2022. The Government aims to achieve 100% electrification of broad-gauge railway tracks by December, 2023. It anticipates fuel bill savings of 5 to 10% in the next year by shifting from diesel to electricity.
The Minister of Road Transport and Highways informed Lok Sabha on Thursday that the total length of National Highways in the country stands at 1,44,983 KM at present. This is spread across a total of 663 National Highways.