‘Census to go digital with Rs 3,768 crore allocation’

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the government would infuse Rs 20,000 crore into public sector banks (PSBs) in 2021-22, to meet the regulatory norms.

For the current financial year also, the government had made a provision of Rs 20,000 crore for recapitalisation. Unveiling the Budget 2021-22 in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister said the government has proposed to infuse Rs 20,000 crore into the PSBs, to further consolidate financial health of banks.

During 2019-20, the government had proposed to make a Rs 70,000-crore capital infusion into the PSBs to boost credit for a strong impetus to the economy. However, the government refrained from committing any capital for the PSBs in the Budget 2020-21, hoping that the lenders will raise funds from the market depending on the requirements.

Later, in September 2020, Parliament approved Rs 20,000 crore capital infusion for PSBs as part of the first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21. Of this, the government provided Rs 5,500 crore to Punjab & Sind Bank in November 2020, to meet the regulatory capital requirement. In 2017-18, the government had infused Rs 90,000 crore, followed by Rs 1.06 lakh crore in 2018-19.

The government will soon put in place a framework to allow electricity consumers to choose service providers or discoms, according to the Budget.

At present, a large number of power distribution utilities (discoms) across the country are state-owned. They are unable to ensure 24-hour ‘power for all’ as envisaged by the central government because they are cash strapped.

“Discoms are monopolies. There is a need to provide a choice to customers to choose a service provider (distribution company). A framework will be put in place to provide an alternative,” said Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech in the Lok Sabha. She also highlighted about the financial stress in the discoms. Total outstanding dues of the discoms toward power generating firms stood at over Rs 1.35 lakh crore as of December 2020.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister announced the much-awaited voluntary vehicle scrapping policy to phase out old and polluting vehicles. She said that under voluntary vehicle scrapping policy, personal vehicles would undergo a fitness test after 20 years while commercial vehicles would require it after completion of 15 years. She said this will promote fuel-efficient and environment-friendly vehicles while cutting on India’s huge import bills.

A sum of Rs 3,768 crore has been allotted for the upcoming census which will be digital. Announcing India’s first-ever digital census, Nirmala Sitharaman, who presented the Union Budget 2021-22 today, said the forthcoming census — an exercise to determine the population of the country — would be the first digital census in the history of India.

“For this monumental milestone marking task, I have allocated Rs 3,768 crore for Financial Year 2021,” Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier announced that the 2021 census will be conducted through a mobile phone application. The decision to move away from traditional pen and paper was taken to promote Digital India.


NT Bureau