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Budget 2023-24 focuses on growth with inclusion: NITI Aayog CEO

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NEW DELHI : NITI Aayog CEO Parameswaran Iyer on Friday described the Budget 2023-24 as ‘very comprehensive and balanced’ which will promote growth with inclusion. He also observed that the Budget continues all the reforms and other social welfare programmes undertaken by the government over the past few years.

Iyer further said the Budget has something for all, from the bottom, right up to industry to trade.

“This is a Budget which focuses on growth, with inclusion. It’s very balanced, it carries on from all the reforms and other social welfare programmes which the government has undertaken over the past few years,” he told PTI in an interview.

Iyer noted that the Budget focuses on infrastructure investment, social sector, and also on reaching out to the poor and marginalised section of society.

According to Iyer, the huge focus on infrastructure and capex in the Budget will also incentivise states.

Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman raised the capital expenditure by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore for infrastructure development and announced a lower fiscal deficit target of 5.9 per cent for 2023-24, while retaining it at 6.4 per cent for current financial year.

Replying to a question on the Modi government’s Aspirational Block Programme (ABP), Iyer said ABP is under the Aspirational Districts Programme.

” The budget of ABP is being worked out but basically the idea is that state governments converge funds from the existing resources and focus on data-driven delivery and tight monitoring,” he said.

The NITI Aayog CEO said that all states have agreed to implement ABP.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Aspirational Block Programme covering 500 blocks for saturation of essential government services across multiple domains, on the lines of a similar exercise aimed at developing 112 backward districts.

Iyer said the Aayog is also working on the State Support Mission with state governments.

“We are helping state governments in developing their own institutions. Five or six of them have already done it under the State Support Mission,” he revealed.

Sitharaman in her Budget speech had said the State Support Mission of NITI Aayog will be continued for three years for the collective efforts towards national priorities.

Reacting to Oxfam India’s recent statement which had said the Union Budget has missed yet another opportunity in addressing the growing inequality in the country, Iyer said he does not agree with them.

“It is a bottom up budget where it really touches the lives of vulnerable people…. this budget for the first time has focused on the most vulnerable amongst the tribals,” he asserted.

Sitharaman in her Budget speech had said that to improve socio-economic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission will be launched.

An amount of Rs 15,000 crore will be made available to implement the mission in the next three years under the Development Action Plan for Scheduled Tribes, she had said.

In the Modi government’s last full Budget before general elections, Sitharaman on Wednesday unveiled tax rebates and saving plans to woo the middle class, women and pensioners, and announced massive spending on housing and infrastructure as she walked the tightrope between staying fiscally prudent and meeting public expectations.

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