Andalib Akhter / New Delhi

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today asserted that the government’s inflation management was robust and the inflation rate stands at 6.2 percent despite the challenges posed by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. She countered opposition’s allegations over the inflation while replying to discussion on the Union Budget 2022-23 in the Rajya Sabha.

Referring to the global financial crisis in 2008-09, she said, the Indian economy witnessed a contraction of 2.12 lakh crore rupees during that time, whereas the country witnessed contraction of 9.57 lakh crore rupees during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said, despite the huge contraction in the economy during the pandemic, the country’s CPI inflation is at 6.2 per cent whereas it was 9.1 percent in 2008-09.

The Minister said, Union Budget 2022-23 talks about the stability and creating modern infrastructure in the upcoming 25 years. She said, if the country does not have a vision for the next 25 years, it will suffer like in the past 70 years.

She said the Budget will bring continuity and stability in the economy. She stressed that stability will ensure growth of the economy.

Talking about the various initiatives of the government, she said, PM Gatishakti is guiding the government to create modern infrastructure across the country.

She said, government is focusing on the adoption of technology in the various sectors to improve governance. She said, use of digital technology will ensure transparency in the governance.

She said, use of drones in the farm sector is a very effective tool for modernizing the country’s agriculture sector. The Minister added that funds are being made easy for the Start up sector.

Highlighting the multiplier effects of capital expenditure, Nirmala Sitharaman said, budgetary provision of 7.5 lakh crore rupees has been made for building infrastructure in the country.

She said, every rupee spent as a capital expenditure gives 2.45 rupees worth of multiplier effect. She said, this is the reason the government has not chosen the path of revenue expenditure route and stressed on the capital expenditure.

On the issue of unemployment in the country, she said, capital expenditure will create jobs in the country. Clarifying the 60 lakh jobs figure mentioned in the Budget speech, she said, job creation is not limited to this number as it is related to production linked incentive schemes initiated for the 14 sectors.

On the opposition’s allegation over the low budgetary allocation to various schemes, the Minister alleged, MGNREGA was misused during the UPA government and it was infested with ghost accounts. She said, this scheme is a demand-driven programme, which is meant to provide jobs to rural unemployed in lean season.

Ms. Sitharaman said, 73 thousand crore rupees has been provided and allocation will be subsequently enhanced as the demand rises. She said, allocation for health has gone up to 85 thousand 950 crore rupees in 2020-21 from 64 thousand crore in 2019-20.

Countering the opposition allegation that the economy is running on treadmill, the Finance Minister said, the size of the GDP was 1.1 lakh crore rupees seven years ago and now it is 2.32 lakh crore rupees.

Citing estimated 9.2 percent GDP growth in the current fiscal, the Minister said, there is no question of slowdown or recession.

On crypto currencies, she said, provision has been made to tax the digital assets and the question of banning, regulating or legalizing it, will come subsequently after consultations. She criticized the opposition for questioning the Amrit Kaal.

Earlier, participating in the discussion, K. Ravindar Kumar of TDP said, budgetary allocation on health is not encouraging. He demanded to grant special state status to Andhra Pradesh.

K.C. Ramamurthy of BJP termed this budget as progressive and forward-looking. He said, this Atmanirbhar Bharat budget is for the people as provisions have been made for all the sections of the society.