The Union Budget for the FY 2016-17 contained several new measures for the social sector. Highlighting these measures in his budget speech in parliament today, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the government had ''decided to embark on a massive mission to provide LPG connections in the name of women members of poor households''. A sum of Rs2,000 crore had been set aside in this year's budget to meet the initial cost of providing these LPG connections, the finance minister explained.
Jaitley added this will benefit about 1.5 crore households below the poverty line in 2016-17. The scheme will be continued for at least two more years to cover a total of 5 crore BPL households to ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country, the minister added. This measure will empower women and protect their health. It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking and also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas, he said.
Jaitley expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the 75 lakh middle class households who had voluntarily given-up their cooking gas subsidy in response to the call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In an another important announcement, Jaitley said that it was proposed to constitute a National Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Hub in the MSME ministry in partnership with industry associations. This hub will provide professional support to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs to fulfil the obligations under the Central Government Procurement Policy 2012, adopt global best practices and leverage the Stand Up India initiative.
The finance minster also announced the approval given by the union cabinet to the ''Stand Up India Scheme'' to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and women. Rs500 crore had been provided for this purpose. The scheme will facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch, one for each category of entrepreneur. This will benefit at least 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs, the minister elaborated.
Jaitley said the schemes for welfare and skill development for minorities such as Multi-Sectoral Development Programme and USTAAD shall be implemented effectively.