Budget 2017 provided the maximum, in spite of fiscal constraints: Shaktikanta Das

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Feb 03, 2017 08:22 AM IST

Explaining the Union Budget in details, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das, said that every section of society has been taken care of while keeping in mind the fiscal constraints. An excerpt of the interview:

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das addresses a press conference in New Delhi.(PTI)
Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das addresses a press conference in New Delhi.(PTI)

Many feel that the budget has fallen short of the expectation of the middle class. Do you think the Budget could have given more to the middle class?

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I don’t know why this question is coming up. The Union Budget has tried to look into each sector keeping in mind the fiscal numbers and macro economic fundamentals. Critical sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, education, financial have been given a thrust. Given the constraint, whatever possible has been given.

How realistic is the disinvestment target of Rs 72,500 crore, considering that it has not been since 2010-11?

We will make the disinvestment exercise time-bound and therefore it will be spread throughout the year. We will chalk out the plan and stick to it. However at this point I don’t want to provide any quarterly to half yearly target. The public sector general insurance companies will hit the market in the coming financial year. Besides, the companies like IRCTC, IRCON and IRFC are going to be listed. These are big ticket ones and we are confident that the target will be met.

Read | A renewed focus on agriculture: How the budget 2017 hasn’t got it quite right

When will the economy be fully remonetised?

It is a near complete exercise. Things are normal today and we don’t see queues at bank branches or ATMs any more. All restrictions have been lifted except the weekly cash withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000. The weekly limit of Rs 24,000 leads to a monthly Rs 96,000. I honestly think that this amount is more than sufficient. We need to reduce the demand of cash and the ban on cash for transactions beyond Rs 3 lakh, is a step towards that. Introduction of the electoral bonds is another step to curb use of cash. So we need to move towards making the economy less cash dependent.

Realistically, when do you think the exercise of consolidating the oil PSUs will be complete?

I think it should be done by the end of the year. I don’t see this to be a major challenge.

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