Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today made a slew of announcements, including to bring investments in education and health segments under the infrastructure sector and special grants for women self-help groups and fishermen.

Replying to the discussion on the Budget for 2011-12 in Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said : “There is a need to further accelerate the creation of infrastructure in this (health and education) domain. I am happy to announce that henceforth capital stock in educational institutions and hospitals will be treated as infrastructure sub-sectors.”

Mukherjee added that investment in education and health sectors possess high priority in the government”s policy framework.

“Capital investment for these sub-sectors will be eligible for the Viability Gap Funding Scheme of the Ministry of Finance,” he said, adding that detailed guidelines would soon be announced.

The Finance Minister also said a Women”s Self Help Groups Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 500 crore would be formed.

“The proposed fund will operate through NABARD and will be exclusively utilised for providing refinance on loans given to women”s SHGs on soft terms,” he said.

The government would also extend the existing Interest Subvention Scheme for fishermen. Under the interest subvention scheme the government steps in by picking up a part of the interest burden.

“…announce the extension of the existing Interest Subvention Scheme of providing short-term loans to farmers at 7 per cent interest with additional interest subvention for timely repayment to fish farmers and fishermen,” Mukherjee said, adding that 20 lakh fishermen would benefit from it.

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September 2021