Nirmala Sitharaman says every estimate in budget “realistic”

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, today, asserted that every estimate in the Budget 2019-20 was “realistic” and that the focus on agriculture and investments lay a foundation for nearly doubling the 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.

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 per cent on simplified return filing and tracking of evasion.

On his assertion that the Budget for 2019-20 did not have any “bold structural reforms” which should have come with the massive mandate the BJP got in recent elections, Sitharaman said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in July 2017 and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code brought in 2016 were structural reforms.

She went on to list 16 reforms such as bank recapitalisation and direct benefit transfer (DBT) done in the first term of the Modi government.

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