NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that the Union Budget 2021 comprises two important features, namely increased spending in infrastructure and healthcare sectors.
Briefing the media at the post-budget press conference, Sitharaman noted that the budget comes at a time when the government decided to give necessary demand push to uplift the economy.
“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 and so on,” she said.
“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,” Sitharaman added.
Defending on the Centre’s move to spend more, the finance minister said that the fiscal deficit which started at 3.5 per cent during February 2020 has increased to 9.5 per cent of GDP. Hence, the government opted to spend more.
The government announced a substantial increase in investment in healthcare sector. The budget outlay for health and wellbeing was increased by 137 per cent to Rs 2.2 lakh crore as against the budget estimate of Rs 94,452 crore last year.
A new centrally sponsored scheme, PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, was proposed to be launched with an outlay of about Rs 64,180 crore over 6 years to develop capacities of healthcare and also for creating new institutions to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases.
Sitharaman said that accounting of government expenditure and revenue statements are now a lot more transparent and open.
On farm laws, the finance minister exclaimed that the government is and 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,” she noted.
Sitharaman added that agriculture has received emphasis in Budget. For increased allocation for credit flow through Nabard the government is bringing in Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess (AIDC) through