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Budget 2021 aimed at sustainable economic growth in medium term: FM in RS

Infrastructure creation, continuing reforms, transparency of accounts are features of Budget 2021, says Nirmala Sitharaman in Rajya Sabha

Nirmala Sitharaman

BS Web Team 

Nirmala Sitharaman
FM Nirmala Sitharaman speaking in Rajya Sabha (Photo: ANI)

Finance Minister on Friday said in Rajya Sabha that Budget 2021 is "an instrument for Aatmanirbhar Bharat" and that it is aimed "at maintaining sustainable economic growth in medium term". While replying to a debate on Budget in Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said, "Budget 2021 clearly draws on the experience, the administrative capacities and also exposure that the PM had during his long elected tenure - both as CM of Gujarat and as PM of this country." Stimulus provision in Budget 2021, which was presented on Febuary 1, is for economic revival, reforms taken during coronavirus pandemic to revive growth, informed the union minister. "It is worth mentioning that 800 million people were provided free foodgrains, free cooking gas provided for 80 million people and cash was directly given to 400 million people, farmers, women, divyang and also the poor and needy," Sitharaman added. Infrastructure creation, continuing reforms, transparency of accounts are features of Budget 2021, said Sitharaman. Besides providing 'quick short term solutions', Sitharaman said that the government is also looking at "long term sustainable growth". "So post-pandemic and post-global contraction, economies have suffered across the world. And as I said in my budget speech the attempt made in this budget is to provide strong stimulus, to provide such a stimulus which can bring in a multiplier effect and therefore instead of finding quick short term solutions, even as we provide short term quick relief for those people who so desperately need it," the minister said. "We are looking at medium term, long term sustainable growth, which will keep India in that kind of growth trajectory which will maintain us as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world," she added. She also responded to Opposition's criticism of Budget 2021 over privatisation. On February 4, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed the Union Budget 2021-22 as "crony centric", which "betrays" the employers of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). "Modi's crony centric budget means- Struggling MSMEs given no low-interest loans, no GST relief. The employers of India's largest workforce betrayed," Gandhi had tweeted.

The Finance Minister attacked the Opposition over its claims that the Centre works for the benefit of 'crony capitalists'. Outlining several schemes including MGNREGA scheme and PMAY among others, she said that all these government initiatives were aimed at the poor rather than the rich.

"A false narrative is being created," she said over accusations that the government was only for the rich and crony capitalists.

"It has now become a sort of habit for some in the Opposition to constantly allege, in spite of what we are doing for the poor and the steps taken for helping the poor and needy of this country, a false narrative is created to accuse this government of working only for cronies," said Sitharaman. "Over 1.67 crore houses have been completed under PM Awas Yojana. Is it for rich? Over 2.67 crore households electrified under PM Saubhagya Yojana since October 2017.

Total value of orders placed on government e-market is Rs 8,22,077 crore. Are they being given to big companies? They're being given to MSMEs," she added. "Number of digital transactions via UPI from August 2016 till January 2020 were over 3.6 lakh crore. UPI is used by who? The rich? No. Middle class, smaller traders. Who are these people then? Is government creating UPI, facilitating digital transactions to benefit rich cronies? No," added Sitharaman. Sitharaman lashed out at the Congress during her response to the Budget discussion in the Rajya Sabha and said the government schemes are meant only to benefit the poor and not meant for "some Damaad" (son-in-law in clear reference to Robert Vadra). Although she did not take any name but the Finance Minister's jibe clearly agitated the Congress leaders even as she continued with her volleys at the Opposition benches.

Denying allegations of non-transparency in budgetary numbers, Union Finance Minister on Friday said that the Modi government's Budget was "clear and transparent", while indicating that numbers were doubtful during the UPA rule.

Her statement came after Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that the major numbers in this year's Budget were "suspect".

In her reply to the debate on the Union Budget 2021-22, Sitharaman said: "What you get as Budget is what you get in it. No pushing anything under the carpet..."

She highlighted instances in the 2007-08 Budget, saying those numbers were "suspect".

"I will give three concrete proofs of how accounts were suspect. I can give you clear proof of how data became suspect at times, which did not occur under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," she said, alluding to the UPA rule.

Sitharaman suggested that 60 per cent jump in 2007-08 capex numbers also included Rs 40,000 crore financially neutral deal involving the RBI and SBI.

She said that if the Rs 40,000 crore is removed, the actual capex growth that year would come to around 7 per cent. She stressed that 34.5 per cent growth in capex this year is the highest-ever.

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First Published: Fri, February 12 2021. 14:45 IST