Economic growth, national security are priorities: FM
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will seek fiscal consolidation without compromising on public spending, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday, listing economic growth and national security as the priorities of the NDA’s second term in office.
Replying to a debate on the budget in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said there had been an increase in the allocation for almost every welfare programme targeted at sections ranging from women to scheduled castes and tribes. The budget has substantially boosted investment in agriculture, health, education and affordable housing. The fiscal deficit in the budget has been pegged at 3.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The government is committed to the path of fiscal consolidation without compromising on the public expenditure placed by the various sectors,” the finance minister, who presented her first budget on July 6, said.
Opposition members walked out during her speech, protesting against an increase in fuel prices and chanting slogans that the budget was anti-people. Sitharaman has proposed to raise excise duty and road and infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel by ~2 per litre to raise ~24,000-28,000 crore on an annual basis.
Members of the Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Trinamool Congress, National Conference and Nationalist Congress Party walked out during the minister’s reply. Sitharaman did not speak about the fuel prices in her reply.