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mala Sitaraman 
mala Sitaraman 
National

Nirmala to write history; stage set for first Budget of Modi Govt 2.0

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 5: The maiden Budget of the Narendra Modi government in the second tenure will be presented in Lok Sabha on Friday.

It will be Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's first Budget and also the second fiscal proposals of a financial year by any woman Finance Minister. Indira Gandhi has been the only woman to have presented Budget for fiscal 1970-71. The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had taken over the Finance portfolio following resignation of veteran Morarji Desai as the Finance Minister.

Ms Sitharaman also perhaps holds a unique experience of directly dealing three core sectors of economy and budget making — the commerce, the industry and the defence in her first term in the union council of ministers under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2014, Ms Sitharaman was inducted as Commerce Minister and later in 2017 she was elevated as Defence Minister.

Understandably, the priority before the Finance Minister is to focus on growth and finding new avenues for the same as it is also high time to appreciate the challenge of slowdown in real term basis. The adhoc Budget presented in February by Piyush Goyal, who held the portfolio during the illness of Arun Jaitley, was generally given away as a self-congratulatory one and an election speech for the incumbent government. The Economic Survey 2018-19 presented in Parliament on Thursday has given various strategies on boosting investment to fuel the improved productivity, boost cycle of economic growth and channelising savings into investment. Experts say defence manufacturing can be a new avenue of growth for Indian business at three levels small, medium and big.

In February this year during Aero India show, Ms Sitharaman - then the Defence Minister - had urged the foreign defence vendors to build and invest in India. “You have an assured market and, in fact, a captive buyer in the Indian armed forces”, she has said. Thus all eyes will also be on whether she really pushes for - now as Finance Minister - the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in defence to support ‘Make in India’ initiatives - something she worked for as in charge of the Defence portfolio. UNI