Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today delivered her promised budget like no other that is expected to provide relief to the pandemic-hit common man as well as focus more on driving the economic recovery through higher spending on healthcare, infrastructure and defence amid rising tensions with neighbours.
Even as India emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, the ninth budget under the Narendra Modi government, is widely expected to focus on boosting spending on job creation and rural development, generous allocations for development schemes, putting more money in the hands of the average taxpayer and easing rules to attract foreign investments.
Nirmala, who had in her first budget in 2019 replaced leather briefcase that had been for decades used for carrying budget documents with a traditional red cloth ‘bahi-khata’, had earlier this month stated that the budget for the fiscal year beginning April will be “like never before”.
The budget, economists and experts say, will be the starting point for picking up the pieces after the economic destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And it must go beyond being just a “bahi khata” or a ledger of accounts, as well as canning old schemes in a new bottle.
It has to be a vision statement, a roadmap to get the world’s fastest-growing major economy back on track. A prescient budget, which goes a long way in instilling confidence, cannot be replaced by “mini-budgets” such as the one in September 2019 when the government cut corporate tax rate just two months after Sitharaman presented her maiden one, or the periodic announcements of economic measures that dotted 2020.