Even as Union Ministers hailed the Union Budget tabled by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday as an ‘inclusive budget’, it drew sharp criticism from Opposition leaders who dubbed it as an ‘election budget’.
The government presented the interim budget for 2024-25 in Parliament on Thursday with a focus on economic policies that foster growth, facilitate inclusive development, improve productivity, and create opportunities for various sections while noting that it will pay utmost attention to the eastern region including states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and West Bengal to make them growth engines as part of a goal to make India a developed country by 2047.
No change was proposed in the tax rates in the interim budget with Finance Minister Sitharaman announcing that the government will form a high-powered committee for an extensive consideration of the challenges arising from fast population and that it will present a white paper on the economic performance of 10 years of BJP-led government compared to previous 10 years of Congress-led UPA government.
This was the last budget of the PM Modi government in its second term with Lok Sabha polls expected in April-May this year. Sitharaman, who presented her sixth budget in Lok Sabha, expressed confidence in the BJP-led NDA coming to power again.
“In the full budget in July, our government will present a detailed roadmap for our pursuit of ‘Viksit Bharat’,” she said.
The minister said that the capital expenditure outlay for the next year is being increased by 11.1 per cent to Rs 11,11,111 crore, which would be 3.4 per cent of the GDP.
As per the First Advance Estimates of National Income of FY 2023-24, presented along with the Finance Minister’s speech, India’s Real GDP is projected to grow at 7.3 per cent.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called the Interim Budget “inclusive and innovative”.
PM Modi, in his first post-budget remarks, said that the Interim Budget empowers the four pillars of Viksit Bharat.
“This interim budget is inclusive and innovative. It has confidence in continuity. It will empower all four pillars of Viksit Bharat: Yuva, Garib, Mahila and Kisan. This Budget gives the guarantee of making India a developed nation by 2047,” PM Modi said.
He further said that this budget reflects the young aspirations of a young India.
“This budget is a reflection of the young aspirations of a young India. Two important decisions were made within the Budget. For research and innovation, a fund of Rs 1 lakh crore has been announced,” he added.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the 2024 interim budget will strengthen the country’s financial position, increase exports, develop manufacturing business and create new employment thus promoting the resolution taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India the third largest economy in his third term.
“This budget by the Union Finance Minister is going to strengthen India’s financial position, increase the exports, develop the manufacturing business and create new employment and will further the resolution taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India the third largest economy,” said Nitin Gadkari.
In a comprehensive overview of the interim union budget 2024-2025, Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Union Aviation Minister, highlighted India’s remarkable transformation under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership over the past decade.
“This budget thoroughly examines the historic transformation and progress India has undergone in the past decade under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, Scindia said.
Calling the Interim Budget 2024 an encouraging one, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the country will achieve the target of becoming a developed nation by 2047.
“This is an encouraging budget…We are fully confident that we will achieve the target of becoming a developed nation by 2047,” the Defence Minister said while speaking to reporters.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said that no sector has been left out and that today we have become a confident country in the world in terms of economy.
“I thank Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and PM Modi for this budget. No sector has been left out…Today we have become a confident country in the world in terms of economy,” the Union Minister said while speaking to ANI.
Goa CM Pramod Sawant said, “…I welcome this budget on behalf of the people of Goa. This budget will fulfil the dream of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047.”
Union Minister Arjun Munda dubbed the Budget a ‘motivational’ one for the people.
“This budget is motivational for the people of India. With the goal of ensuring ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Prayas’, and putting the people of India in a top position, the government of India has presented this budget…” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Manish Tewari responded sharply to Indian economist and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s presentation of the Interim Budget for the fiscal year 2024-25, labelling it a ‘vote-on-account’ whose only goal is to keep the government solvent for the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
As soon as the budget for 2024-25 was made live, Congress MP Tewari told ANI, “It is a ‘vote-on-account’ which has only one purpose to keep the government solvent for the first quarter of the current fiscal year.”
The Congress leader also expressed concern about the high budget deficit and said, “What’s worrying is that there is a budget deficit of Rs 18 lakh crores. This means that the government is borrowing for its expenditure. This number is only going to increase next year.”
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also said that the Interim Budget 2024-25 was presented in rhetorical language with very little concrete implementation.
“It was one of the shortest speeches on record in the Budget. Not very much came out of it. As usual a lot of rhetorical language, and very little concrete implementation. The Finance Minister talked about foreign investment without acknowledging that that investment has come down significantly,” Tharoor told ANI.
“She talked about a number of things which are couched in vague language like ‘confidence’ and ‘hope’ and so on. But when it comes to hard figures, very few figures are available. This is going to be a very disappointing speech in terms of being couched entirely in generalities and without enough substance nor any willingness to address the specific problems of the economy,” added the Congress leader.
Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “This budget was hollow. There was nothing for the youth, women, farmers…I saw arrogance when they said that they would present the Budget in July. You cannot take any election for granted.”
DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran said that the budget can be rated zero when it comes to delivery.
“The finance minister took a long time to hail praises but delivery was zero. They are going to present a white paper on the previous government… Nothing much has happened in the last 10 years. The people of the country are already disappointed. Moreover, you realise that performance incentives are given to the bridge companies, and not going to the deserving ones. People are rejected with this budget” Maran said.
Newly elected AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal called the budget disappointing.
“This is a disappointing budget. Inflation and unemployment are at their peak in the country but there is nothing about it in the budget…It is a disappointing budget for the common people” the AAP MP said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati said that the budget presented by the Central Government today in the Parliament, before the Lok Sabha elections, is more of an “election gimmick” than reflection of the ground reality.
“In this way, it is very sad and worrying to deny the life of the people of the country suffering from immense poverty, unemployment and rising inflation etc. Along with this, if there was a ground reality in the government’s claims and promises related to the country’s economy and development, then more than 80 crore people here would not have been forced to live a life in need of free ration,” she wrote on X.-ANI