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Budget backed with plan, estimates realistic: Sitharaman

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Answering critics of her maiden Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman yesterday said every estimate in the Budget 2019-20 was "realistic" and that the focus on agriculture and investments lay foundation for nearly doubling size of the economy to USD 5 trillion in five years.

Replying to the debate on the Union Budget in Rajya Sabha, she said adequate provisions for expenditure particularly for defence, pension and salary and internal security have been provided for with necessary mobilisation of tax and non-tax resources.

She said the big picture presented in the Budget is backed with a plan to increase investment without compromising on the fiscal consolidation roadmap.

"It is not without a plan," she said on increasing the size of the economy from USD 2.7 trillion to USD 5 trillion by 2024-25.

Besides focus on agriculture, the plan includes increasing investment coming by way of further liberalisation of FDI rules, lowering of corporate tax to 25% to companies with turnover of upto Rs 400 crore, tax cut on electric vehicles, widening scope of voluntary pension scheme for retail traders and shopkeepers and giving push to infrastructure development with an investment of Rs 100 lakh crore over the next five years.

Pro-growth measures include reduction in import duty on some raw material and boosting 'Make in India', widening scope of cash support to farmers and constitution of a five-member Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth under Prime Minister for taking comprehensive steps, she said.

Rebutting former finance minister P Chidambaram's assertion of "unachievable" tax projections, she read out numbers to say income tax, excise and GST collection targets are achievable.

While excise collections will boost with Rs 2 per litre increase in tax on petrol and diesel and an amnesty scheme, GST collections will boost by over 14% on simplified return filing and tracking of evasion.

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