Chennai: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government has come out with an open and transparent Budget and has not made any attempt to hide anything under the carpet.
She said that the focus of the Budget 2021-22 has been on spending big on infrastructure and attending to the needs of the healthcare sector for reviving Indian economy which is expected to contract by 7.7 per cent in the current fiscal ending March.
Sitharaman said the government has not lost the opportunity to clean up its own book.
“I had started in July 2019, continued it in February 2020 and even now we have made accounts more transparent. Nothing is pushed under the carpet. We are showing clearly where money is going. Money given to FCI is also brought on board. So accounting of government expenditure and revenue statements are now a lot more transparent and open,” she said.
The Budget has also given a glide path for deficit management and bringing it below 4.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025-26.
The government has increased capital expenditure for the current fiscal and for the coming financial year to push demand in the economy hit by Covid-19 pandemic, she said.
“As a result, the borrowing increased and our fiscal deficit which started at 3.5 per cent during February 2020 has gone to 9.5 per cent of GDP. So, we have spent … otherwise the fiscal deficit would not have reached this number,” she said.
She further said that the spending on infrastructure has gone up from Rs 4.12 lakh crore to Rs 5.54 lakh crore, while on the health sector, spending rose to Rs 2.23 lakh crore from Rs 94,000 crore in the Budget estimate for 2020-21.
“The Budget comes at a time when all of us have decided to give a greater impetus to the economy. That impetus would be qualitatively spent and create a necessary demand push if we choose to spend big on infrastructure. That is why if there are two important features of this Budget, it is that we chose to spend big on infrastructure and attending to the needs of the health sector,” she said.
Even for the health sector, the government has decided to build up capacity in terms of establishment of testing labs, and critical care centres, she added.
On the GDP growth, Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj said Real GDP growth would be 10-10.5 per cent in the next fiscal.
“Our revenue figure is under-stated not overstated. We have taken nominal GDP at 14.4 per cent and revenue growth at 16.7 per cent. So the buoyancy is only 1.16. We are hopeful we will get more than this. We will definitely be within 6.8 per cent and could be lower also,” he said.
On the rationale for Rs 12 lakh crore borrowing for the next financial year, Bajaj said the government will spend the money borrowed on infrastructure development which has a multiplier effect.
“But I presume it (Rs 12 lakh crore borrowing) will not have that inflationary impact. So we have taken that into account,” he said.