New Delhi: Presenting the Union Budget 2022-23 on Tuesday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that it will lay the foundation for economic growth through public spending and lay out a blueprint required for readying modern infrastructure for a 100-year-old nation. "This Budget continues to provide impetus for growth. It lays a parallel track of a blueprint for the AmritKaal, which is futuristic and inclusive. This will directly benefit our youth, women, farmers, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. And big public investment for modern infrastructure, readying for India at 100. This shall be guided by PM GatiShakti and be benefited by the synergy of multi-modal approach," said Sitharaman.
The Central government has projected a growth of 8-8.5 percent compared to as estimated 9.2 percent for the current financial year and a 6.6 percent contraction in the previous year. "The overall sharp rebound and recovery of the economy is reflective of our country's strong resilience," said the Finance Minister in the Lok Sabha.
The Finance Minister said that the Budget 2022-23 is focussed on four priority areas — PM GatiShakti; Inclusive Development; Productivity Enhancement & Investment, Sunrise Opportunities, Energy Transition, and Climate Action; Financing of Investments. Sitharaman said that the government aims to increase the size of the economy's annual spending to Rs 39.45 lakh crore in FY23. The government has enhanced the outlay for capital expenditure sharply by 35.4 percent from Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the current year to Rs 7.5 lakh crore in 2022-23. This is an increase of more than 2.2 times the expenditure of 2019-20 and the outlay 23 will be 2.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Sitharaman said.
The increased spending will leave the government with a fiscal deficit of 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Announcing a plan to spend Rs 20,000 crore on highway expansion programme, Sitharaman said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has made building of infrastructure a top priority to improve the cost of doing business. "The touchstone of the master plan will be world-class, modern infrastructure and logistics synergy among different modes of movement of both people and goods, and location of projects," said the Finance Minister. The government said that 400 new-generation Vande Bharat Trains with better energy efficiency and passenger riding experience will be developed and manufactured during the next three years and contracts for implementation of Multimodal Logistics Parks at four locations through PPP mode will be awarded in 2022-23.
The Finance Minister also announced a new scheme, Prime Minister's Development Initiative for North-East (PM-DevINE), which will be implemented through the North-Eastern Council and will fund infrastructure in the spirit of PM GatiShakti and social development projects based on the felt needs of the North-East. "This will enable livelihood activities for youth and women, filling the gaps in various sectors. It will not be a substitute for existing central or state schemes. While the central ministries may also pose their candidate projects, priority will be given to those posed by the states. An initial allocation of Rs 1,500 crore will be made," said Sitharaman.
Another big announcement made by the Finance Minister pertains to the introduction of a digital currency by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). "Introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will give a big boost to digital economy. Digital currency will also lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system. It is, therefore, proposed to introduce Digital Rupee, using blockchain and other technologies, to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India starting 2022-23," said Sitharaman.