Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021 in Parliament on Monday, 1 February, saying that this year, the budget will have a special focus on infrastructure and healthcare.
“So we have spent, we have spent and we have spent,” the FM said while addressing a post-budget press conference. She added that the fiscal deficit, which was at 3.5 percent in February 2020, has increased to 9.5 percent of the GDP.
“If there are two important features of this Budget, it is that we chose to spend big on infrastructure which spans across roads, power generation, bridges, ports & so on. As a second feature, I tend to the need of the healthcare sector and even there, capacities for better health management had to be brought in in light of what we had gone through last year,” added the minister.Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
The newly launched ‘Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana’ has a budget allocation of Rs 35,000 crore for coronavirus vaccines, and a total of 2 lakh crore for the healthcare sector.
“This Budget comes at a time when all of us decided to give impetus to the economy and that impetus, we thought, would be qualitatively spent and give necessary demand push if we choose to spend big on infrastructure,” said the finance minister.
The minister introduced tax reforms, proposing an exemption from filing Income Tax returns for senior citizens aged 75 years and above, who only have pension and interest income. The income tax slab for the financial year 2021-22 will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, the fiscal deficit for the FY21 has been pegged at 9.5 percent of the GDP, while for FY22, it has been estimated at 6.8 percent, the finance minister said.
Speaking on the controversial farm laws, Sitharaman said, “On farm laws, the government is & has always been open to dialogue with farmers. The agriculture minister has been ready to have a clause-by-clause discussion with farmers on the farm laws. Hence we believe that dialogue is the way forward”.
Addressing the defense budget, TV Somanathan, the Secretary of Expenditure said, “Defence Budget consists of three component – revenue, pension & capital component. The Budget allocation (for the capital component) in 2020-21 was Rs 1,13,734 crores. It has gone to Rs 1,35,060 crores which is an increase of 20 percent."
BJP Leaders Tweet in Support of Budget
The budget was met with criticism from opposition, but many politicians from Bharatiya Janata Party took to Twitter to praise the budget for being well-balanced. PM Modi called the budget ‘a vision of reliance as well as inclusiveness.’
The budget also has an “unprecedented focus on healthcare” with India having a proactive approach in fighting the coronavirus, added the PM.
Defense Minister Rajnath singh tweeted his congratulations to the finance minister for presenting India’s first Digital Budget, and praised PM Modi’s vision “of Inclusive Development”, addin that “this Budget will expedite India’s economic transformation”.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted in support, congratulating the finance minister and PM Modi for the first ‘Digital Budget’. The CM also praised India’s move to allocate Rs 35,000 crore to fight the coronavirus, and said ‘self-reliant India is a gift to humanity’.
Home Minister Amit Shah also congratulated PM Modi and Finance Minister Sitharaman on Twitter. Shah added that under Modi’s leadership, India has set “many records in space technology,” and the country’s first unmanned satellite, Gaganyaan mission, will be launched in December 2021.
He also praised the Modi government’s commitment to strengthen education at the grassroots levels.
Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan posted on Twitter about India’s plan to fight the coronavirus, and the interventions under the Swasth Bharat Yojana.
“Congratulations to PM Modiji and FM Nirmala Sitharamanji on presenting AatmanirbharBharatKaBudget - balanced, progressive and aspirational, it’ll provide greater opportunities to our domestic stakeholders across.” tweeted Minister of textiles, Smriti Irani.