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Here’s what Niti Aayog Vice Chairman thinks of Union Budget 2019

Kumar said that the government has made very strong efforts in this year’s Budget to attract private investments and to assure the investor community
New Delhi: Commenting on the Union Budget, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said that it has made a clean break from the past by focussing on the big picture and setting out a clear direction for the newly anointed Narendra Modi government. Terming the budget proposals unveiled by India’s first full-time woman Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as “unconventional,” Kumar added that it has covered a very wide canvas and has laid down a roadmap for the next 10 years.

On Opposition’s critique

Reacting to the critique offered by the Opposition that the Budget failed to deliver anything substantial to the middle class this time, Kumar said that the interim budget had announced income tax rebate for the middle class and such concessions cannot be repeated all the time due to fiscal constraints. “On the middle-class thing, I am not sure whether every Budget should have something for the middle class. You know six months ago, your (middle class) exemption levels were raised to Rs 5 lakh, but then why would you want them to be done again now,” he said. The interim budget that was announced six months back had exempted people with earnings of up to Rs 5 lakh from payment of income tax. “After all, the government does need fiscal resources to undertake all the development work that it is trying to do and also to help the investors in many ways. Because otherwise, you fritter away everything on more and more handouts to the middle class,” Kumar remarked.

Budget aimed at attracting private investments

Kumar said that the government has made very strong efforts in this year’s Budget to attract private investments and to create a feeling of assurance within the investor community. “This Budget is an unconventional Budget. The finance minister focused much more on the bigger picture than on the micro nitty-gritty details, which was a clean break from the past. It is setting out clear direction for Modi 2.0,” the Niti vice chairman said.

On hike in fuel prices

Kumar played down the hike in prices of petrol and diesel by saying that it is not much in the case of petrol, whereas as far as diesel is concerned, it will have only a marginal impact on inflation. The Budget hiked petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2 per liter each.