Bhubaneswar, Feb 17: The fund allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) has not gone down, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here on Friday, adding it is a demand driven scheme and as and when the demand increases, the Centre provides money.
Addressing a post-budget press conference here, Sitharaman said: "Budget time allocation is one thing... and the scheme itself is a demand-driven scheme, as and when demand increases, we provide funds for it. This has been done in the past years since 2014."
"If you look into the past years, we have added some money in the supplementary budget for MGNREGA. Even during Covid pandemic, the allocation for the scheme had crossed Rs 1 lakh crore," she said.
Notably, against Rs 73,000 crore allocation in the budget estimate (BE) of 2022-2023, the current allocation was reduced to Rs 60,000 crore.
Commenting on funding for procurement of wheat and rice, she said that the government has not brought it down at all.
Sitharaman said the total amount given to the farmers is very high as the minimum selling price has gone up.
"The total amount spent on procurement is at an all-time high now. You can be sure there is no coming down in these figures," she said. The Minister also said there is no shortfall of funds for Ayushman Bharat Yojana.
Clarifying the allocation of Rs 35,000 crore made in the budget for energy security and transition, the Finance Minister said the money allotted to energy security and transition is not a subsidy.
It is for the transition from fossil fuels to green energy.
The fund is made to enable public sector oil company refineries to be upgraded to reduce their emissions and to make sure that our strategic reserves are all filled up adequately, she said.
When asked about the exposure of public sector banks to Adani Group companies, Sitharaman said: "SBI has already given a statement on its exposure. You have heard it from the horse's mouth."
She also said that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) does not report each and every matter to the Centre.
"The matter is being heard in court today, so maybe it's not right for me to comment," she said.