Sitharaman promises budget like 'never before'; seeks growth-inducing ideas

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has promised “never before” like budget in 2021 while seeking growth-inducing ideas from industry.

© Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman

She said their inputs will be used to create a “Budget as never before” to help India emerge as the engine for growth and economic resurgence.

India’s economic resurgence will help the world to recover, Sitharaman said at the CII Partnership Summit 2020, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.

Speaking on the ‘Partnerships for Lives, Livelihood and Growth’ theme, the minister said these three words have engaged the attention of policy planners across the world and there was a need to build synergies between these elements.

The minister said health and investment in health would be the top priority for the government in Budget 2021. This will entail more funding not only for buildings and infrastructure but also for creating capacities for front line workers such as doctors, technology and skills for use of telemedicine, among others. 

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“The Budget would take note of all the inputs received from the health sector to take this forward,” said Sitharaman.

She said India was fortunate to have the facility and capacity to not only produce the vaccine but also export the same for humanity’s sake. She invited private participation to help the health sector scale up by investing in medicinal R&D, biotech, and pharma R&D.

The minister said there would be a new canvas for addressing livelihood issues in the post-pandemic era. “Newer systems such as work from home, new technology adoption, etc, would become a part of emerging work culture for which the workers would need to be provided right skills and training,” said the minister.

The government is engaging with stakeholders so jobs are defined better and there is scope for a new crop of workers, women, and youth in employment, she said.

On current growth, the Finance Minister said while the pandemic created significant stress, the disruption was much less in rural India which showed its resilience. “Future policies would need to address the right engines of growth,” said the minister.

Uday Kotak, President, Confederation of Indian Industry, said the Centre has taken many initiatives to improve the business climate. He talked about reforms undertaken in areas such as labour, digitisation, privatisation of non-strategic sectors, and policies to battle Covid-19.

Sitharaman, addressing the annual general meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on Thursday, had said the government had taken several measures to support the economy but no amount of intervention would be adequate to deal with the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.