Upcoming budget to focus on growth, says Sitharaman


New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the Union Budget for 2023-24 would be ‘carefully structured’ where the focus would be on maintaining growth momentum.

Speaking at an event organised by the Brookings Institute in Washington, during the course of her five-day US visit, the Finance Minister in a conversation with Cornell University’s Eswar Prasad, said on Tuesday that the focus of the forthcoming Union Budget would be on growth priority.

She said that inflation concerns were also there and managing growth would be the main focus.

On being asked about rising public debt and fiscal deficit, Sitharaman said that in the budgets of 2021-22 and 2022-23, the government focussed on increased capital expenditure to revive the economy in the post-pandemic era.

“We understood the virtue of asset creation. We hiked infrastructure spending in the last two budgets but at the same time managed to maintain fiscal prudence,” the Finance Minister said.

Speaking about the immediate risks being faced by India, the Finance Minister said that energy and fertiliser requirements were one of the most immediate challenges the country faced.

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She said that there was a limit to which renewable energy infrastructure can be ramped up, but it can’t meet all the energy requirements.

Due to the energy crisis, India has for the time being gone back to thermal energy.

Similarly, while India was capable of producing fertilisers and it was doing so, as well as meeting requirements with the government footing the bill, the demand was rising, she said.

Sitharaman said due to the rising international prices of fertilisers there was a crisis and this was an immediate challenge along with energy requirements.

Elaborating on managing the economy during the pandemic days, Sitharaman said that due to the digitalisation of the economy, which had started in 2014 itself, India managed to provide foodgrains to the needy during lockdowns.

Immediate relief was provided to the people due to financial inclusion infrastructure, which the government had already created, she said.

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