Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Sunday that the latest Union Budget has laid the foundation for increasing consumption and building assets such as infrastructure for building a $5 trillion economy.
“I think we have laid the foundation for increasing consumption, ensuring that capex and government’s investment will go towards building assets such as infrastructure, which is sure to have a cascading effect, both in the short term and in the long term.
“And with that, the virtuous cycle of triggering the economy to perform and move forward will be happening, that is the basis on which majority of government expenditure is going towards infrastructure construction,” Ms Sitharaman told the media.
She said the budget has announced 16 focus points to address “any kind of rural distress”.
She said the NDA government has provided various windows, for directly paying to the farmers, or for improving on health, besides looking at aspirational districts and making sure that infrastructure related to health, hospitals, and so on, are created at the block level.
“I expect all these to lead towards building a five trillion dollar economy,” she said.
Ms Sitharaman dismissed a query on whether the proposed IPO of Life Insurance Commission could affect the safety of public money.
She said the IPO was being floated for the general public to become shareholders in LIC.
“Why should it have any connection with whether it is safe for public money? It is India, it’s our citizens who are probably going to take a certain percentage of what the government is holding.
“There is a regulatory body. All of us are going to be more transparent and disciplined about responding,” she said.
Asked about a timeframe for merger of three nationalised general insurance companies, she said, “I have no time in my mind at the moment that I can answer.”
She said the government was taking every possible measure to ensure liquidity does not become a problem for industry and NBFCs.
“Lending and lending for retail borrowers, lending by banks, public sector and the private sector, are all issues I am closely monitoring. The finance secretary is constantly engaging with banks,” she said.