Union Budget 2018-19 a balanced and prudent one: Experts

New Delhi: There are many striking points in the Rural Sector, Skill Development, Education and Financial Inclusion by the Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2018.

 As per Mr. Siddharth Chaturvedi (Director, AISECT), “The budget 2018-19 is a pro-Bharat budget, if we can call it that, which has a lot to offer to the population living in rural areas and individuals and enterprises working in the Agricultural space. Initiatives such as Operation Greens, Agricultural Market Fund, Enhancement of Credit flow towards creation of rural infrastructure, doubling of allocation towards food processing sector, revival of National Bamboo Mission all point towards the Govt.’s focus on revitalizing the rural economy and creating livelihoods and direct and indirect employment as a result. The focus on increasing Credit flow under Mudra scheme also points towards promoting entrepreneurship at the Micro level, again aimed at promoting livelihood creation.”

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On the other hands more funds are required under the schemes of SANKALP and STRIVE, which were announced by the Govt. previously and the budget was silent on that aspect. The issue of GST applicability on the skill development sector is still a matter up for reconsideration. On the higher education front, focus on research with the announcement of 1000 Research Fellows Scheme, aimed at bright B.Tech students is a welcome move and will promote research as a credible career option amongst engineering students. However, the budget was silent on modalities of HEFA or Higher Education Financing Agency, which was announced in the last budget, meant to provide the much needed capital for building up of further quality higher education infrastructure, which was expected from the budget”.

According to Ms. Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi (Director, AISECT), “For the education sector, it was heartening to see that the Govt. is talking about the key elements required for improvement of learning outcomes. First of all, it was high time that Teacher Training was realised as the topmost priority and the Govt.’s move of introducing an integrated B.Ed. program is a welcome move.

Again, the Govt.’s vision of moving towards leveraging more of digital technology to improve the education system is a step in the right direction. Introduction of RISE – Revitalization of Infrastructure in Secondary Education was a much needed boost required for improving the infrastructure in the school education system. The FM also realised the fact that although we have overcome the basic challenge of getting the students into the classrooms, but learning outcomes still remain poor.”

Mr. Abhishek Pandit (Director-Business Services, AISECT) said, “In the financial inclusion sphere, we have been expecting micro-pensions & insurance to be incorporated under the umbrella of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY); which has very much happened. The substantial credit push to the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana is a welcome step; we are hoping that it is implemented in a flawless manner.”

Sanjay Bahl, CEO and MD, Centum Learning, said “The focus on digital education is a very positive step towards Digital India. Digital education will be one of the biggest drivers of skill development in the country leading to employment opportunities for empowerment of its citizens. The Finance Minister has rightly recognized the most critical aspect, which is taking a step towards technology enabled learning solutions. Industry will welcome the move of shift from blackboard to digital education.

In my opinion, for the most part, the Finance Minister has presented us with a conducive environment by creating policies that would lead to skill development and employment generation. The announcement of creation of 70 lakh job opportunities will contribute positively towards building a robust economy.  Job creation will mean getting skilled manpower for those jobs which is a good sign for the skilling industry.

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