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Budget – Welfare with Fiscal Discipline

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        Piyush Goyal

This year’s interim budget proposals will accelerate India’s journey towards becoming a developed country by 2047 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proven approach of sabka saath, sabka vikaas sabka vishwas, sabka prayas and the special emphasis on Garib, Yuva, Annadata and Nari. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should be applauded and congratulated for this.

Welfare with Fiscal Discipline – What is truly remarkable about the growth-oriented interim budget’s announcements is that generous, targeted welfare measures along with a historic increase in capital expenditure and massive work opportunities and employment generation will go hand in hand with fiscal responsibility and discipline. 

This is great news for the economy because welfare schemes and provision of basic necessities of roti kapda aur makaan leaves more money in the pockets of beneficiaries, which they spend on various products and create demand in the economy.

It is important to note that fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability remains the focus even at a time when the nation is preparing for general elections. Globally, most investors brace for fiscal recklessness when a country heads for elections, because governments often ignore fiscal discipline and resort to reckless populism.

Investors applaud – The Modi government is different. Its strict adherence to fiscal discipline ensured that despite the twin shocks of the pandemic and Ukraine crisis, India emerged as the bright spot in the turbulent world as it combined care and compassion with sensible economics. This year’s budget announcements are in the same spirit.

The investing community recognizes this. This is reflected in global interest in doing business with India. India’s stock markets also reflect the enthusiasm of investors. India’s stock market recently overtook Hong Kong to become the world’s fourth-largest with a valuation of $4.33 trillion.

No 1 all the way – Capital expenditure has been raised by 11.1 percent to a historic high of Rs11,11,111 crore. This will further improve and modernize India’s infrastructure, which is already dramatically better than what it was 10 years ago.

Higher capital expenditure and implementation of large projects will create numerous opportunities for our youth.

Modi Guarantee – Prime Minister Modi has correctly observed that this year’s budget is guaranteed to strengthen the foundation of India’s path towards becoming a developed country by 2047. The key part of this journey is the empowerment of the poor by setting ambitious targets, achieving them and then having even bigger aspirations.

This is evident in the Modi government’s achievement and aspiration in building homes. The government has already built more than four crore houses for the poor in villages and cities. The government has now set a target of building another two crore homes for the middle class. 

Women-led development –  Similarly, the target of creating 2 crore Lakhpati Didis has been increased by 50% to three crore. ASHA and Anganwadi workers will also get the benefit of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. The government has also empowered women with 30 crore mudra loans. Enrolment of women in higher education has increased 28% in the past decade. In education, women constitute 43 percent of students in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses, which is among the highest in the world.

For better healthcare, the Finance Minister has announced that the government will encourage vaccination for girls in the age group of 9-14 years, demonstrating the caring and compassionate governance of Prime Minister Modi. For synergy in implementation, various schemes for maternal and child care will be brought under one umbrella.

Middle-class gains – In line with the government’s strategy to make life easier for people and prevent harassment, the budget announced the new income tax scheme that will provide relief to one crore people. This is a welcome change from the past when previous government had kept this huge sword hanging over the heads of the common man for decades. The middle class will also gain from improved infrastructure and the expected sharp increase in job creation.

Golden era for youth – India’s youth have the most to gain from Prime Minister Modi’s vision of making India a developed country by 2047. The budget has emphasized the importance of youth and announced measures to help them with employment opportunities, support for start-ups, and provisions to enhance innovation. 

The Finance Minister rightly said that for India’s tech-savvy youth, this will be a golden era. The government will establish a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore to give interest-free loans for 50 years. It will encourage private companies to scale up research and innovation. The Finance Minister highlighted the importance of programmes that combine the powers of India’s youth and technology.

Clean and Green – The Modi government is also focused on clean and green development. The budget takes a giant leap in this direction. The Rooftop Solar Scheme will help one crore families get free electricity. What is more, people will earn up to Rs 20,000 by selling excess power to the grid. It will also provide opportunities for entrepreneurship.

In many ways, PM Modi has launched the era of sunshine after centuries of struggle. The budget is an important milestone, laying the foundation of a strong, self-reliant, and confident nation- Viksit Bharat 2047. 

The writer is a Union Minister

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