Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday took a dig at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying "the situation was not good when the economy was managed by very competent doctors".
While speaking on fiscal deficit numbers in Lok Sabha, Nirmala Sitharaman made multiple jibes at the opposition Congress, without naming Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Comparing fiscal discipline under the Modi government with that of Manmohan Singh government (2009-2014), Sitharaman said that the previous regime had failed to contain fiscal deficit numbers. She said that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, maintained the fiscal deficit under 4 per cent of the GDP throughout its regime. While the fiscal deficit was always more than 4 per cent, even touching 6 per cent, during the second stint of Manmohan Singh government.
In 2008-09, the fiscal deficit had reached 6.1 percent of GDP, which rose to 6.6 per cent in 2009-10. It stood at 4.9 per cent and 5.9 per cent in 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively. In 2012-13 it again came down to 4.9 per cent and by the year 2013-14, it had come down to merely 4.5 per cent of GDP.
On the contrary, the fiscal deficit was in a range of 4.1 per cent to 3.5 per cent during the Modi government, she said. "From 2014-15 till today, under PM Narendra Modi, both the tenures then and now, we respected FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act always every year," she said.
FRBM is an Act of the Parliament which intends to bring transparency and accountability in the conduct of the fiscal and monetary actions of the government. It targets phased reduction of fiscal deficit.
"Very often we are questioned about fiscal deficit numbers; are you taking care of it; is their going to be a breach; how are you are counting," Sitharaman said in a reply to discussions on the Union Budget in Lok Sabha.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget 2020 speech proposed reducing fiscal deficit by 30 basis points to 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2020-21. She invoked the escape clause to take a 50 basis points leeway for FY20, taking the revised estimate to 3.8 per cent of the GDP.
"We estimate a fiscal deficit of 3.8 per cent in RE 2019-20 and 3.5 per cent for BE 2020-21," the Finance Minister said in her Budget speech.
By Chitranjan Kumar