Arun Jaitley terms Budget 2019 blend of good economics, good politics; roadmap for economy to get back on track

Arun Jaitley says PM Modi's first tenure witnessed a mixed blend of both "good economics and good politics"

Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has termed the Modi 2.0 government's first Budget a policy document that lays down the roadmap for the Indian economy to get back on track. In his latest blog post, Jaitley said it is a budget of a continuing government, which has to accelerate the direction of the past. "It expands the roadmap on which the Prime Minister has built up India's growth story from 2014-19. The striking part of this period was that for a five-year average, India grew by 7.3 per cent, its revenues grew exponentially and it brought macro stability back with both the Current Account Deficit and the Fiscal Deficit being on the glide path downwards," said the former FM.

Appreciating the Modi government's "fiscally prudent" approach, Jaitley said such measures eventually get rewarded as against those who indulge in "fiscal adventurism". He said PM Modi's first tenure witnessed a mixed blend of both "good economics and good politics". "...any government needs both in order to survive and perform," he said, adding that schemes such as Jan Dhan Accounts, Aadhaar laid the foundation for direct benefit transfer to those who needed state support.

The last five years have seen a lot of emphasis on infrastructure, said Jaitley, adding that "this priority is self-evident in the fact that the rural roads programme connecting every village with a motorable road is nearing completion". He said the railways is one of the top priorities of the government, and besides faster trains, modernised coaches, and additional safety measures, the country will soon witness the modernisation of the railway stations similar to airports.

He said the government has also maintained the direction of reforms in the banking and financial sector. "Consolidation of public sector banks is being undertaken so as to have fewer but mega and financially strong banks. A sizeable allocation has been made for recapitalisation of banks so that their capacity to lend for growth improves. The Budget contains concrete proposals about support to the NBFCs whose liquidity, for the last several months, was under strain and had reduced the purchasing power of consumer," said Jaitley.

On the issue of raising excise duty and cess by Rs 2, Jaitley clarified that softening of the crude oil prices persuaded the Centre to raise levy marginally. He said the government raised the excise duty on fuel so that this money could be transferred to a special fund meant for infrastructure creation, particularly national highways and the rural roads programme.

Edited by Manoj Sharma