Veteran economic journalist TN Ninan said the lesson from Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2020 is that the numbers cannot be taken seriously. In a discussion with fellow journalist AK Bhattacharya, Ninan explained the budget as one that hides many of the real numbers of the economy, and also makes ambitious projections that will be difficult to meet.

Calling the first two hours of the Budget speech “a game of smoke and mirrors”, Ninan pointed out that the outlays mentioned did not show the comparisons with the previous year, and that a look at the earlier year’s figures would show very little – if at all – actual increase in expenditure.

As for the revenue projections, Ninan was deeply sceptical about them. “You can put out any number you want,” he said, “but how seriously do you take those numbers?”