Atmanirbhar Bharat Package: What is it all about?

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On May 12, the Prime Minister announced the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Package’, valued at 20 lakh crore. The package’s announcement is based on certain legal provisions which empower the Government to provide such reliefs.

About the Package

The announcement comes in response to the biggest economic crisis since the one in 1979. The Prime Minister announced the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ package as a means to revive the economy. After the initial announcement, the Finance Minister elaborated on the package over the next few days. The Package comprises the following tranches, which are –

Tranche 1 (Announced on May 13):

Deals with economic relief to MSMEs, NBFCs, and DISCOMs.

Tranche 2 (Announced on May 14):

Provides for economic relief and food grain supply to Migrant workers.

Tranche 3 (Announced on May 15):

Provides relief for the agricultural sector, herbal cultivation, beekeeping, fisheries as well as for animal husbandry.

Tranche 4 (Announced on May 16):

Provides for Viability Gap Funding.

Tranche 5 (Announced on May 17):

Provides for additional MGNREGA Allocation.

The Union Cabinet has approved of the various schemes under the Package, including Tranches 1 and 2. In addition to the allocations, the borrowing limits of the states was increased from 3% to 5% for the year 2020-2021.

Legal Provisions relating to Atmanirbhar Bharat Package

The Package comes under the provisions for the Union Budget under the Constitution of India. The provisions dealing with the Union Budget are provided under Articles 112 to 117. Article 112 provides for the Annual Financial Statement, which contains the anticipated expenditures. Additionally, Article 113 lays down the procedure for the estimation of expenditure. Further, Article 114 elaborates upon the bills drafted for the appropriation of the Consolidated Fund of India.

Article 115 provides for “Supplementary, additional or excess grants”. It states that the President can present before the Parliament any expenditure. However, the government did not anticipate such expenditure while the Financial Statement was prepared. It allows for additional expenditures in the case of unforeseen circumstances. The Package falls under the concept of ‘Additional Grants’.

A new service not contemplated in the Budget for a particular year require additional grants. The demand for additional grants is made before the Parliament. Such grants are allowed only if it is proven that there will be additional expenditures.

Current Scenario

The Government of India announced Union Budget for the year 2020-2021 on February, 1.  “ Aspirational India, Economic Development, Caring Society” were its major themes.

The Prime Minister and the President approved the Union Budget and suspended the Budget session earlier. However, the current pandemic has resulted in a need for additional expenditures. However, the Parliament has suspended activities and the procedures for the passing of the Package could not be followed as per Article 115.

The cabinet will make decisions regarding the package if the parliament is not in session. It has given ex-post facto approval to certain allocations under the Package.

Views regarding Atmanirbhar Bharat Package

The people of our nation have exhibited varying responses to the announcement of the “Atmanirbhar Bharat Package”. According to one side, the package is beneficial to all parties suffering losses due to the pandemic. On the other hand, there are views that the amount is insufficient.

The Package is equal to 10% of the GDP to provide financial support during the Pandemic. The government will implement the various trenches of this package in stages. The media and the public are yet to note the practical effects of the package.

The government has introduced this package as a measure to bring about financial stability. Finally, while citizens have raised many questions against it, the government has placed immense faith in it.


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