Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is otherwise calm and articulate during her interactions with the media, showed her witty side at a post-budget presser on Monday, February 1. A well-timed comment by her provided for a lighter moment during the conference which went viral on the internet. The highlight was when the finance minister stepped in to defend a female reporter during the presser.
Following her presentation of the 2021 Union Budget in Parliament earlier in the day, FM Sitharaman, flanked by MoS Anurag Thakur, and other Finance Ministry officials headed for an interaction with the media.
While taking several questions from several reporters, the finance minister took one from a female journalist during the latter half of the press conference which streamed live on PIB's (Press Information Bureau) official YouTube channel.
When the woman reporter mentioned she had two questions to ask, PIB chief KS Dhatwalia interjected saying, "No, only one... others are there."
It was then that FM Sitharaman intervened and said, "Why do you say that only to her? You didn't stop the guys." Her response evoked laughter from the audience, even from her team members, who were sitting with the Finance Minister. The journalist also thanked the minister before continuing.
FM Sitharaman, who presented her third budget on Monday, laid out an increase in infrastructure expenditure, doubled healthcare spending, and raised the limit on foreign investment in insurance for the upcoming fiscal year in an attempt to back and facilitate recovery from the pandemic-induced slowdown. In addition, the finance minister also announced a tax holiday for startups and affordable housing for migrant workers in an attempt to bolster investments in these sectors.