Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that the central government’s Union Budget for the year 2021-22 has “set the pace for India to become aatmanirbhar” as it is a blend of stimulus-related efforts and reforms. 

In her reply to the issues raised by members of the Lok Sabha over the recently-presented Budget, Sitharaman said, “We have managed to bend the curve and as a result the revival of the economy looks a lot more sustainable and this Budget gives the necessary impetus.”

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Saying that the reforms in the Budget will pave the way for India to become one of the top economies in the world, Sitharaman said, “An opportunity has been taken out of pandemic situation, a challenging situation like the pandemic did not deter the government from taking up reforms that are going to be necessary for sustaining long term growth for this country.”

Launching a scathing attack on the Congress Party, she said that the same party which happily kept socialistic polices from 1948 to 1975 hailed themselves as reformists when they opened up the economy in 1991. 

“The same party which….completely shifts from socialism to complete opening up of the economy and till today would like to harp on (being reformists)….the same party today asks us, asks the Prime Minister ‘where is your reform credentials’,” Sitharaman said. 

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She said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has always believed in India.

“We didn’t borrow something from somewhere and gave a hybrid. Out belief in India, our belief in Indian businesses, our belief in Indian economic strength has been consistent from Jan Sangh to BJP,” she said.  

Sitharaman further stated that the Opposition leaders have misread the data given in the Budget on the agriculture sector. 

“On agriculture, there was this question: why did you reduce the Budget by about Rs 10,000 crores? Are you not going to take care of kisaan? That is absolutely misread because benefits worth Rs 1.15 lakh crore has been transferred to bank accounts of 10.75 crore farmers since the inception of the PM-Kisan Samman Yojana,” she said. 

She said that the government is “taking a holistic approach to health”.

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“It (the Budget) is addressing preventive health, it is addressing curative health, it is also addressing well-being. Otherwise, you are not going to get holistic health-related governance.”

Sitharaman said that while the defence sector was mentioned in her Budget speech, the details are there in the documents. She also compared the Budget allocation for the sector from the year 2013-14 to highlight the BJP government’s focus on strengthening the defence forces. 

“Under revenue Rs 1,16,931 crores in 2013-14, Rs 86,741 crores capital in 2013-14, under pensions Rs 44,500 in 2013-14. What is it now? Rs 2,09,319 under revenue, Rs 1,13,734 under capital and Rs 1,33,825 under pension,” she said.