Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is on the brink of etching her name in history books as she gears up to present her sixth consecutive Budget (Five consecutive annual Budgets and one interim Budget), an unparalleled feat in Indian parliamentary annals. Building upon her legacy of fiscal stewardship, Sitharaman’s tenure resonates with the tenure of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai, who previously held the finance portfolio during 1959-1964.
Prime Minister Morarji Desai, who holds the distinction of presenting 10 Budgets—the highest by any Finance Minister—had consecutively presented six of them, including one interim Budget, in a row.
Interim Budget 2024-25: A Prelude to Elections
Sitharaman’s impending presentation on February 1, 2024, marks the interim Budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. This interim Budget, commonly referred to as a vote-on-account, is pivotal in authorizing government expenditures until the advent of a new administration following the general elections slated for April-May.
A Pre-Election Stance
In light of the impending general elections, Sitharaman’s interim Budget is anticipated to maintain continuity rather than ushering in sweeping policy changes. Echoing her sentiments expressed at a recent industry event, Sitharaman reaffirmed the interim Budget’s procedural role as a vote-on-account, downplaying expectations of groundbreaking announcements.
Tradition and Transition
Sitharaman’s tenure as Finance Minister has been characterized by a blend of tradition and innovation. Notably, her departure from conventional practices, such as adopting a ‘bahi-khata’ in lieu of the traditional briefcase for Budget presentations, symbolizes a departure from the norm. Furthermore, her adept handling of economic challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic underscores India’s resilience amidst global uncertainties.
Continuity and Change
The Modi government’s economic trajectory, spanning across successive Budgets, reflects a blend of continuity and innovation. From Arun Jaitley’s tenure, marked by the shift in Budget presentation dates, to Piyush Goyal’s interim Budget in 2019, featuring significant tax reforms, each phase underscores the government’s adaptability to evolving economic landscapes.
Path to Economic Resurgence
As India aspires to achieve ambitious economic milestones, Sitharaman’s Budgetary focus is expected to prioritize sectors such as agriculture, pivotal for revitalizing rural economies. Against the backdrop of projections indicating a slowdown in agricultural growth, Sitharaman’s Budget assumes critical importance in charting a course for inclusive and sustainable economic resurgence.
Anticipating the Budgetary Landscape
Industry experts, cognizant of the impending elections, anticipate a Budget emphasizing immediate fiscal imperatives over long-term reforms. Rakesh Nangia, Chairman of Nangia Andersen India, underscores the strategic imperative of balancing short-term fiscal exigencies with enduring economic objectives, laying the groundwork for post-election economic trajectories.
Important Questions Related to Exams
1. How many consecutive Union Budgets is Nirmala Sitharaman set to present?
2. Which Finance Minister previously presented six consecutive Union Budgets?
Kindly share your responses in the comment section!!