India unveils annual budget with focus on agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-01 15:06:45|Editor: Jiaxin
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NEW DELHI, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government on Thursday unveiled its budget for the financial year 2018-19, with a focus on agriculture, infrastructure and healthcare.

This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's last full-fledged budget before the 2019 general elections. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in 2014.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the budget in parliament, saying "Budget 2018 will focus on agriculture and rural economy, health, infra, senior citizens."

Structural reforms will help Indian economy become the world's fifth largest soon, he said.

Stating that the government is committed to increasing the incomes of the country's farmers, the finance minister said that the government would set up an Agri-Market Development Fund.

"Grameen Agricultural Market will provide farmers a means to sell directly to buyers. The focus is on low-cost farming, higher minimum selling price," he said.

"Our government's emphasis is on generating farm and non-farm employment for farmers," the minister stressed.

On the health sector, Jaitley announced a National Health Protection Scheme for the poor by providing 500,000 Indian rupees (7,841 U.S. dollars) per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

"This is the world's largest government-funded health program," he said, adding that the government would also set up one medical college every three parliamentary constituencies.