Rationalisation of expenditure to be new mantra, says FM

Rationalisation of expenditure to be new mantra, says FM

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 10 : The government will make no compromise on undertaking social welfare projects and measures to help farmers and the poor as all steps will be taken by following the trajectory of prudent rationalisation of expenditure and mobilisation of resources, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

'We are ensuring that social sector works are taken care of and this is being achieved due to prudent rationalisation of expenditure and mobilisation of additional resources,' Ms Sitharaman said replying to over 15-hour long debate on Union Budget 2019-20 stretching over three days.

She said this is the second budget after the implementation of GST in July 2017 and the states' share has also shot up substantially.

The Finance Minister said that the state is committed to safeguarding the interest of states and hence the states would get a whopping amount of Rs 13,29, 488 crore and this "entails an increase" of Rs 82,845 crore as ear-marked in the revised estimate of 2018-19. "With continued emphasis on empowering states, the total resources for the states including the devolution of the states' estimated to be Rs 13,29,488 crore. This entails an increase of Rs 82,845 crore of the revised estimate of 2018-19," she said and also about Rs 2, 44,298 crore more than the actual expenditure of 2017-18.

This implies that even after two years of GST implementation - "we are very clearly saying that the amount being spent (for social sector and the states) is far higher than what it was earlier".

'The Budget reflects the sincerity and commitment of the government to boost investment in agriculture, substantially boost investment in social sector, particularly in education and to keep the fiscal deficit at 3.3 per cent of the GDP as against 3.4 per cent as was envisaged in the interim budget presented in February,' she said.

Ms Sitharaman said the Modi Government will firmly stand by its commitment to achieve 5 Trillion USD economy and take steps to augment investment including from overseas sources.

She said 'the Budget reflects government's commitment to substantially boost education, health and infrastructure sectors... achieved fiscal consolidation without compromising on public expenditure.'

Ms Sitharaman's speech was frequently marked by arguments by Opposition members, specially after Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress questioned the authenticity of the statistics. Countering Opposition members, she repeatedly said there was no compromise or shortfall in fund allocation.Referring to the pressing issue of non-performing assets, Ms Sitharaman said the government will take four-pronged steps including resolution, recovery, recap and reform in the banking sector.

During the debate, various issues including creation of jobs, welfare of minorities, FDI and the demand for creation of a National Employment Grid and declaration of a national minimum wage level figured prominently. Participating in the general discussion among others, BJP lawmaker Varun Gandhi said it is high time the government declares the national floor level minimum wage and also sets up one National Employment Grid.

In curious but expected developments, the two main rival parties in Andhra Pradesh TDP and YSR Congress Party on Tuesday demanded Special Category status for the bifurcated state.

Preneet Kaur (Congress) said it was for the first time that a finance minister did not speak on defence allocation.

"I would have liked to believe that her (Nirmala Sitharaman's) immediately previous position as Minister, in-charge of Defence, would have given her enough insights into the need for quick upgradation of the Defence capabilities. The total outlay of Defence capital is up by a meagre 10 per cent. Adjusted for inflation, it means that we are spending less than even last year," she has said. (UNI)