Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman loosened the exchequer’s purse strings and presented an expansionary Budget for 2021-22 on Monday, with a push for infrastructure and health care spending, even as she sought to reduce the fiscal deficit from an estimated 9.5% of GDP this year without ostensibly raising the tax burden. Also read: Budget 2021 | Income tax slabs remain unchangedWhile there was no direct support for the middle classes, there was some relief as the Budget refrained from levying a COVID cess or surcharge. The Finance Minister set aside ₹35,000 crore for the COVID-19 vaccination program with a promise to provide more if the need arises. The overall Budget outlay for ‘Health and Wellbeing’, she said, is ₹2.23 lakh crore, marking a 137% rise over 2020-21. Direct succour for some of the sectors and sections worst-affected by the pandemic may be short, but the government is betting on a real GDP growth of 10%-10.5% in the coming year after the estimated 7.7% decline in 2020-21. It hopes to ride on the multiplier effect of infrastructure spending which the minister said would also spur demand and job creation. Invoking Rabindranath Tagore’s aphorism ‘Faith is the bird that feels the light and… Read full this story
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