Centre offers more sops to minorities ahead of polls (Lead)

September 11th, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sept 11 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections scheduled for early next year, India Thursday increased the share capital of a funding agency for Muslims to Rs.8.50 billion and extended the Haj subsidy to an additional 13,000 pilgrims this year.The cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, authorised increasing the share capital of National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) from Rs.7.50 billion to Rs.8.50 billion, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters after the meeting.

NMDFC, a financial agency under the ministry for minority affairs, provides financial assistance to the poorest among the minorities for their economic upgradation. Minorities account for nearly 18 percent of India’s 1 billion plus population.

“This will ensure higher flow of funds to NMDFC and enable it to be more effective in helping the target groups,” the minister added.

The cabinet also approved the in-principle restructuring of NMDFC by converting it from a Section 25 company to a non-deposit taking non-banking finance company (NBFC).

“It can then be a holding company for minority partnership (MP) and the National Wakf Development Agency (NWDA), both of which will also be registered as NBFCs,” Dasmunsi said.

He also said that 13,000 additional pilgrims would be able to perform the Haj this year availing government subsidy.

“Till now, 110,000 pilgrims were able to perform the Haj on government subsidy. This year, the number has been raised to 123,211,” the minister said.

“The airfare for these pilgrims has been pegged at last year’s level of Rs.12,000,” he added.

From this year, Indore will become the 17th embarkation point for pilgrims undertaking the Haj.

“This will facilitate pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh,” Dasmunsi said.

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