Former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that the Union Budget gave a political direction for an “aspirational India” and presented a roadmap for the country to get back on the high growth track.
Jaitley’s successor Nirmala Sitharaman had on Friday presented the Budget and said India would become a $3-trillion economy in the current financial year. She had said structural reforms were needed to achieve the target of becoming a $5-trillion economy by 2024.
In his Facebook post “The Budget 2019-20”, Jaitley said the Budget was based on the premise that economies that follow prudent fiscal policies eventually get rewarded as against those that indulge in fiscal adventurism. The Budget “expands the roadmap on which the Prime Minister has built up India’s growth story from 2014 [to] 2019”, he said.
Jaitley wrote: “A fundamental question has always been asked as to what would one choose between good economics and clever politics. The choice is unfair because any Government needs both in order to survive and perform. The Prime Minister’s first tenure witnessed this blending of good economics and good politics.”
Jaitley cited that several sectors of interest to the middle class and the neo-middle class, particularly affordable housing and electric vehicles, had been incentivised in the Budget. “Massive infrastructure creation also has the ability to generate employment and attract investment. So does a boost to the construction and real estate sector,” the former finance minister said.
He justified the government’s decision to increase the prices of petrol and diesel. “It is the softening of the crude oil prices which has persuaded the Government to raise the excise duty on petrol and diesel marginally so that this money could be transferred to a special fund meant for infrastructure creation, particularly for the National Highways and the rural roads programme,” he wrote.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government would achieve its goal of becoming a $5-trillion economy in the next five years.