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Business News/ Budget / News/  India has scored on growth, welfare: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

India has scored on growth, welfare: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

She also said the upcoming union budget, which will be presented just before the general elections, is likely to be devoid of any spectacular announcements and will be a vote on account.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses CII Global Economic Policy Forum 2023Premium
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses CII Global Economic Policy Forum 2023

New Delhi: India’s economy has powered ahead of others, and its welfare schemes are now reaching more people, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday, in a spirited defence of the government’s work on economic and welfare fronts.

The Narendra Modi administration’s top priorities are the poor, farmers, women, and the youth, and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party wins elections because the people understand this, the minister said, in a week that began with the party’s thumping victory in three heartland states.

In a brief discussion on the economy in the Rajya Sabha, the minister reeled out figures to show that India was doing much better than developed economies as well as some of the emerging economies considered as the world’s growth engines. She also quoted figures to show that welfare schemes are now benefiting more people.

Earlier in the day, Sitharaman sent out a strong signal to policy makers in the European Union (EU), stating that levying a carbon border tax on imports to meet the bloc’s green agenda goes against the interests of the Global South.

At the Global Economic Policy Forum organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the minister said, “...cross-border imposition (of tax) and that money going towards somebody else’s green agenda, if anything, is not moral at all."

The EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM, or carbon tax) takes effect on 1 January 2026. CBAM is a price adjustment applied to imports into the EU for designated goods based on their carbon emissions in the production process outside the EU, with an aim to prevent the risk of carbon leakage.

The minister also played down expectations of big announcements in the interim budget in February, saying it will be a vote-on-account, and is likely to be devoid of any spectacular announcements.

“It is a matter of truth that the February 1, 2024 budget will be a vote-on-account because we will be in election mode," Sitharaman said.

In the Upper House, Sitharaman spoke extensively to address various points raised by members on economy and welfare, highlighted the Indian economy’s growth momentum and said the performance cuts across all sectors.

“For India to have reached 7.6% in second quarter is a significant number we cannot afford to miss," the minister said. Sitharaman said the production incentives given to new investors are helping boost the manufacturing sector, which has seen 13.9% expansion in the September quarter.

Citing a study by a consultancy, Sitharaman said Made-in-India products are increasingly seen in American supermarkets, adding this happened while US’ import of goods from China declined by 10% from 2018 to 2022. US’ imports rose by 44% from India between 2018 and 2022, the minister said.

Sitharaman also said the government’s direct tax receipts were rising, monthly GST receipts have stabilized at 1.6 trillion, and India was the largest producer of milk, pulses, sugar, jute and tops the world in terms of real-time digital payments.

Sitharaman spoke extensively on the areas where India is doing well and how various schemes implemented by the central government are benefitting people.

Quoting the periodic labour force survey, the minister said that the worker-population ratio, or the share of the employed in the total population, has increased to 56% in 2022-23 from 46.8% in 2017-18. “I underline the fact that it is in the post-covid year that it has gone up."

Sitharaman also told Parliamentarians that youth unemployment has declined over the years, while the government took measures to control inflation and raised subsidy on cooking gas.

“The results (of the just-concluded assembly polls) show over two-thirds of seats in these 26 (aspirational or backward) districts across four states have gone to the BJP," the minister said, adding that the government in office is one that delivers. 


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Published: 07 Dec 2023, 01:13 PM IST
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