Budget 2023-24: NREGA, Food Subsidy, Mid day meal allocations cut drastically

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published Published on Feb 2, 2023   modified Modified on Feb 2, 2023

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), National Food Security Act (NFSA) are schemes whose allocations have been cut drastically in Budget 2023-24, while the Mid-Day Meals budget has also seen a sharp drop. An analysis by the Accountability Initiative (AI) at the Centre for Policy Research reveals that in the case of NREGA and NFSA, the reduction has been over 30 percent! The budget for Mid-Day meals has been cut by 9 percent.

The MGNREGA, which got Rs. 89,400 crore in the revised estimates (RE) of 2022-23 has got Rs. 60,000 crore in the budget estimate (BE) of 2023-24, a 33 percent cut. Allocations for food subsidy under the National food security Act have been reduced by 31 percent from Rs. 2,87,194 crore (RE) to Rs. 1,97,350 crore (BE). Mid-day meals - or PM poshan shakti nirman as it is officially known - was reduced 9 percent from Rs. 12,800 crore (RE) to Rs. 11,600 (BE). The other scheme whose allocation has been slashed is the smart cities mission.

Some schemes have also seen their budgets being increased. Among them are the Jal Jeevan Mission with a 27 percent increase to Rs. 70,000 crore in 2023-24. The Samagra Shiksha scheme has been allocated Rs. 37,453 crore, a 16 percent hike over the RE of 2022-23. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana - Gramin (PMAY-G), or low cost rural housing, was allocated Rs. 54,487 crore, 13 percent over last year's REs. Rs. 7,200 crore has been allocated to Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, a 12 percent increase, while the National Health Mission has been allocated Rs. 35,947 crore, an 8 percent hike. 

Jean Dreze, in a note said, "The 2023-24 Budget has seen a new round of cuts in social-security schemes, with declining allocations in real terms for NREGA, social security pensions, child nutrition programmes and maternity benefits. Taking all these together, we are more or less back to square one after 20 years, in terms of expenditure as a proportion of GDP." 

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Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, 2 February, 2023

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