Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday advised states offering social welfare schemes to check their financial strength and make budgetary provisions accordingly, PTI reported.

“You may promise something,” she said. “And I’m not saying you should not do it. Do it but make sure you understand the financial level of your state, the fiscal strength of your state.”

The finance minister made the remarks during an event organised by the Economic Cell of the Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi.

The debate about social welfare schemes started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 16 had described promising freebies to voters as “revdi culture”. Revdi is a sweet made of jaggery and sesame.

At an event in Panipat on August 10, Modi added that such announcements increase the burden on taxpayers and stop the country from becoming self-reliant.

The remarks by the prime minister invited sharp criticism from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who alleged that the central government’s opposition to social welfare schemes for the citizens showed that its finances were in a bad shape.

Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party, has built its support base through welfare schemes funded by government subsidies, also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre of taxing the poor to “write off the loans of their friends”.

In response, Sitharaman had said Kejriwal was giving a “perverse twist” to the debate on freebies by questioning whether providing education and healthcare constituted such handouts.

On Saturday, the finance minister praised Modi for initiating a debate on free-of-cost services and provisions.

“There’s now a lot of interest on the topic and discussions are commencing,” Sitharaman said. “But a genuine good debate and building on arguments is so required because any attempt to divert from the core principle which we need to understand, or any attempt to undermine or dilute this debate is a disservice to this country because we all know, governments have responsibilities.”

She also spoke on cryptocurrency, saying that the government has already cautioned the public.

“Please. Caution is the word. “There is an immense possibility when you’re talking about the technology, but how and where and what trajectory it takes is something which all of us will have to be concerned about and watch for.”