New Delhi, Feb 1: Allocating lion's share of Rs 3.95 lakh crore for infrastructure development and terming the sector as top priority of the government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the magnitude of investment in the space is bound to spur growth.
Terming railways, roads and rivers as the "lifeline" of the country, the Finance Minister while presenting the Budget for 2017-18, said, "Total allocation for infrastructure stands at a record level Rs 3,96,135 crore in 2017-18." The allocation for infrastructure in 2016-17 budgetary estimate was Rs 3,48,952 crore which was revised to Rs 3,58,634 crore.
"This magnitude of investment will spur a huge amount of economic activity across the country and create more job opportunities," he said. Jaitley said infrastructure was the thrust area of the government for efficiency, productivity and quality of life and approach was to spend more on infrastructure development.
Terming the Budget for 2017-18 as a "revolutionary Budget" in the history of India, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said infrastructure space has been a major beneficiary of the budget and accordingly government is giving topmost priority in developing the sectors be it highways, waterways or multimodal hubs.
He said work worth Rs 4.71 lakh crore is already on in the sector and pace would be accelerated to augment highways, waterways and shipping sectors adding that a massive Sagarmala project for port-led coastal economic development is already underway.
Jaitley further said the World Bank is more optimistic and has projected a GDP growth of 7 per cent in 2016-17, 7.6 per cent in 2017-18 and 7.8 per cent in 2018-19. "...this pick up in our economy is premised upon our policy and determination to continue with economic reforms, increase in public investment in infrastructure and development projects," the FM said.
He added, "Railways, roads and rivers are the lifeline of our country. I feel privileged to present the first combined Budget of independent India that includes the railways also. We are now in a position to synergise the investments in railways, roads, waterways and civil aviation. For 2017-18, the total capital and development expenditure of railways has been pegged at Rs 1,31,000 crore. This includes Rs 55,000 crore provided by the government."
The FM said for transportation sector as a whole, including rail, roads, shipping, a provision of Rs 2,41,387 crore has been made in 2017-18.