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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chaired the pre-Budget consultation meetings for Budget 2023-24 held in virtual mode from November 21-28, 2022. The pre-Budget meetings were concluded here on Monday.

Eight sessions that were organised during this time period saw participation from more than 110 invited guests representing seven stakeholder groups. According to a statement from the finance ministry, the stakeholder groups include representatives and experts from the agriculture and agro-processing industry, industry, infrastructure, and climate change, financial sector and capital markets, services and trade, social sector, trade unions and labour organisations, and economists.

Meanwhile, The State finance ministers increased their demands for more funding, more control over the implementation of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS), and higher payments for mining royalties during their pre-budget consultation.

The Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) had stated during a pre-budget discussion with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the depreciation of the rupee versus the US dollar is impacting exports' competitiveness and as a result, the sector needs more help.

Union Ministers of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary and Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad, Finance Secretary TV Somanathan; DEA Secretary Ajay Seth; Chief Economic Advisor V Anantha Nageswaran; DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey; Financial Services Secretary Vivek Joshi; Corporate Affairs Secretary Manoj Govil; Revenue Officer on Special Duty Sanjay Malhotra, and senior officers from the ministry of finance were also present during the meetings. Secretaries of other ministries/departments concerned participated through online mode.

The representatives of the stakeholder groups made a number of suggestions for the forthcoming Budget that included mechanism for green certification to help MSMEs, urban employment guarantee programme to boost employment generation in urban areas, rationalisation of income tax, creation of innovation clusters, schemes for improving domestic supply chains, reduction of taxes on electric vehicle, introduction of electric vehicle (EV) policy and measures to promote India as a hub for green hydrogen.

Industry groups urged a greater emphasis on job creation, promoting domestic growth and consumption, and more tax rationalisation during a pre-budget meeting with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. They also emphasised the importance of maintaining financial restraint in view of the unstable international environment and high inflation.

FICCI urged the government to maintain the emphasis placed on capital expenditures (capex), which had facilitated a speedy recovery from the Covid impact. According to the report, a strong focus on public capex will attract private investment and enhance overall growth. To increase the competitiveness of the economy across segments, Ficci President Sinha advised that programmes like Gati Shakti and the Digital India Mission be implemented quickly.

Other suggestions were on social sector entrepreneurship fund for social impact companies, training and accreditation of care economy workers, portable social benefit for children, National Regulatory Authority for water and sanitation, coverage of unorganised workers under Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), the continuation of public capex, fiscal consolidation and lower customs duties, among others.

The finance minister thanked the participants for sharing their valuable suggestions and assured that suggestions would be carefully considered while preparing the Budget 2023-24.

The representatives of trade unions who attended the 7th pre-Budget 2023 consultation were Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh All India Organising Secretary B Surendran; National Front of Indian Trade Unions General Secretary Virat Jaiswal, Trade Union Co-ordination Centre National General Secretary Sheo Prasad Tiwari; ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team (DWT) for South Asia Deputy Director Satoshi Sasaki; CII National Committee on Industrial Relations Co-Chairman and Employers Federation of India Past President Pradeep Bhargava.

FICCI Corporate Member and AIOE Past President Sanjay Bhatia, The Federation of Association of Small Industries of India National President Piyush Raj Verma and National Skill Development Corporation CEO Ved Mani Tiwari also attended the meeting virtually.

Some central trade unions had on Friday requested Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to hold a physical pre-Budget meeting on Monday. The representatives of these central unions, namely INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC, didn't attend the consultation with the finance minister today. 

With inputs from agencies*

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