Debate on the Budget would have given me a chance to explain its various positives, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman – The Hindu

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April 04, 2023 10:23 pm | Updated April 05, 2023 07:56 am IST – NEW DELHI
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in Rajya Sabha during the second phase of the Budget Session of the Parliament, in New Delhi on April 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI
With two days remaining for the Budget Session of Parliament to end, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that she was “sad” over not having a debate on the Union Budget, with proceedings in both Houses being a washout so far, adding that the Opposition was trying to distract attention from the “positives” of the Indian economy, especially buoyancy in tax collections despite tax rates not being raised.  
“I feel very sad as a debate on the Budget would have given me a chance to explain its various positives,” Ms. Sitharaman told reporters here.
The Modi government, she asserted, has been presenting “honest and transparent” Budgets year after year. “The Budget is a transparent document, and our effort has been to have nothing about government finances to be hidden, and everything presented to Parliament,” she said.
She also said that she looked forward to the debate every year, that many members had insightful questions, and that explaining the government’s ideas behind the Budget was important.
Noting the buoyant direct and indirect revenue collections, and inflation hovering around the upper tolerance limit amid a sluggish global economy, Ms. Sitharaman said India remained the fastest-growing major economy globally. “The Indian economy is a success story,” she said, citing Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections hitting an average of ₹1,50,000 crores, and net direct tax collections rising by 18% this year despite tax rates not being raised.
Ms Sitharaman’s remarks assume significance in the face of both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank paring down India’s growth rate in reports released on Tuesday.
Asked about the Opposition’s attack on the government over various issues, including the Adani Group-Hindenburg Research row, she said Opposition parties, especially the Congress, had been resorting to various tactics to “divert people’s attention from the success of the Indian economy”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case and his loss of membership of the Lok Sabha have also contributed to the Opposition being on a collision course with the ruling BJP.
Ministers have been giving statements that Mr. Gandhi’s loss of membership was as per the law on the matter while the Opposition has been accusing the government of vindictiveness over the speed of Mr. Gandhi’s disqualification and the notice served to him to vacate his government bungalow.
The Opposition has been protesting in Parliament, and demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani issue. With the government ruling it out, proceedings in both the Houses have been a washout with Bills, including the Finance Bill, being passed amid a din.
Lok Sabha / budgets and budgeting / economy, business and finance / Indian National Congress
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