The finance ministry has penciled in Rs 1.4 lakh crore ($18.8 billion) as fertilizer subsidy in the budget due February 1, up from Rs 1.3 lakh crore in the year ending March 31, due to higher raw material costs, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public. Discussions are still going on and a final decision is yet to be taken.
The increased spending comes ahead of crucial local polls and amid efforts by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party to win over farmers after facing massive protests against new laws that have since been scrapped. Nearly 60% percent of India’s 1.4 billion population depends on farming directly or indirectly for their livelihood and their support is key for winning elections.
A finance ministry spokesman was not immediately available for a comment.
The government had substantially raised fertilizer subsidy in the current year amid the protests after allocating nearly Rs 80,000 crore in the budget unveiled in Feb. 2021.