Budget backed with plan, estimates realistic: Sitharaman


NEW DELHI, July 12:Answering critics of her maiden
Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday said every

estimate in the Budget 2019-20 was “realistic” and that the
focus on agriculture and investments lay foundation for nearly
doubling size of the economy to USD 5 trillion in five years.

Replying to the debate on the Union Budget in Rajya
Sabha, she said adequate provisions for expenditure
particularly for defence, pension and salary and internal
security have been provided for with necessary mobilisation of
tax and non-tax resources.

She said the big picture presented in the Budget is
backed with a plan to increase investment without compromising
on the fiscal consolidation roadmap.

“It is not without a plan,” she said on increasing the
size of the economy from USD 2.7 trillion to USD 5 trillion by

Besides focus on agriculture, the plan includes
increasing investment coming by way of further liberalisation
of FDI rules, lowering of corporate tax to 25 per cent to
companies with turnover of upto Rs 400 crore, tax cut on
electric vehicles, widening scope of voluntary pension scheme
for retail traders and shopkeepers and giving push to
infrastructure development with an investment of Rs 100 lakh
crore over the next five years.

Pro-growth measures include reduction in import duty on
some raw material and boosting ‘Make in India’, widening scope
of cash support to farmers and constitution of a five-member
Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth under Prime
Minister for taking comprehensive steps, she said.

Rebutting former finance minister P Chidambaram’s
assertion of “unachievable” tax projections, she read out
numbers to say income tax, excise and GST collection targets
are achievable.

While excise collections will boost with Rs 2 per litre
increase in tax on petrol and diesel and an amnesty scheme,
GST collections will boost by over 14 per cent on simplified
return filing and tracking of evasion.

On his assertion that the Budget for 2019-20 did not have
any “bold structural reforms” which should have come with the
massive mandate the BJP got in recent elections, Sitharaman
said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in July 2017
and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code brought in 2016 were
structural reforms.

She went on to list 16 reforms such as bank
recapitalisation and direct benefit transfer (DBT) done in the
first term of the Modi government.

To criticism of her Budget speech on July 5 not featuring
allocations, she read out allocations made in schedules such
as employment guarantee scheme, irrigation, rural roads,
drinking water, health, education, crop insurance and mid-day
meal scheme to say funds made available for 99 schemes having
impact on common man have all gone up.

Sitharaman said inflation has not been allowed to raise
it head and keeping it under tight control is “a powerful tool
to gauge” achievement of the government.

The Budget has given a vision, she said. “It is a vision
for 10 years with a mid-course target of USD 5 trillion
economy we wish to reach.”

“Budget reflects firm commitment to boost investment in
agriculture, and social sector particularly healthcare,” she

On the Economic Survey, prepared by the Chief Economic
Adviser to the Finance Ministry, and the Budget 2019-20 giving
different numbers, she said statistics in both documents are
all authentic but used different base.

“Every estimate of projection given are realistic.
Projection made in Budget are realistic and adequately
provided,” she said.

Sitharaman said over the last five years, public sector
banks have been recapitalised by Rs 3.19 lakh crore. “NPA
problem has been comprehensively addressed by the government.”

On farmer support schemes, she said extending scope of
cash support of Rs 6000 to every farmer, giving 50 per cent
margin of profit on cost of production and timely announcement
of MSP increase will help double farmer income by 2022. (PTI)