FM announces incentives for investment in education, health

New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday made a slew of announcements, including to bring investments in education and health segments under the infrastructure sector and special grants for women self-help groups and fishermen.

Replying to the discussion on the Budget for 2011-12 in Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said : "There is a need to further accelerate the creation of infrastructure in this (health and education) domain. I am happy to announce that henceforth capital stock in educational institutions and hospitals will be treated as infrastructure sub-sectors."

Mukherjee added that investment in education and health sectors possess high priority in the government`s policy framework.

"Capital investment for these sub-sectors will be eligible for the Viability Gap Funding Scheme of the Ministry of Finance," he said, adding that detailed guidelines would soon be announced.

The Finance Minister also said a Women`s Self Help Groups Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 500 crore would be formed.

"The proposed fund will operate through NABARD and will be exclusively utilised for providing refinance on loans given to women`s SHGs on soft terms," he said.

The government would also extend the existing Interest Subvention Scheme for fishermen. Under the interest subvention scheme the government steps in by picking up a part of the interest burden.

"…announce the extension of the existing Interest Subvention Scheme of providing short-term loans to farmers at 7 per cent interest with additional interest subvention for timely repayment to fish farmers and fishermen," Mukherjee said, adding that 20 lakh fishermen would benefit from it.