In the post-Budget conference, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said "huge spending on infrastructure and healthcare sector" were the two main features of Union Budget 2021. She added the Centre wanted to give impetus to the economy and that was possible by spending "big" on infrastructure.
"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 & so on. 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," the FM said in a press conference.
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On Agriculture Infra Cess, the FM clarified that it won't result in a price increase for people and added that higher cess has been adjusted with lower customs duty. It must be noted that in today's budget speech FM Sitharaman announced the imposition of an Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) of Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol and Rs 4 per litre on diesel.
On fiscal deficit, the FM said: "Our fiscal deficit which started at 3.5 per cent during February 2020 has increased to 9.5 per cent of GDP, so we have spent, we have spent and we have spent. At the same time, we have given a clear glide path for deficit management".
The fiscal deficit in 2020-21 is estimated to soar up to 9.5 per cent due to a rise in expenditure on account of the outbreak of COVID-19. In the Budget speech, Sitharaman said the government projected a fiscal deficit of 6.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for FY22.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also lauded the Finance Minister for the Budget and said "The Government has taken the approach of widening new opportunities for growth, new openings for our youth, a new high to human resources, develop new regions for infrastructure, walking towards technology & bring new reforms with this Budget".
The Finance Minister on Monday delivered her third Budget speech in which the most buzzed announcement were -- Rs 35,000 crore outlay for COVID-19 vaccine; ITR filing not mandatory for senior citizens above 75 years; Aatmanirbhar health programme; Voluntary vehicle scrapping policy, and the privatisation of BPCL, IDBI Bank, two more PSU banks, one insurance company.