Amid Slowdown, Nirmala Sitharaman To Reveal Her Second Budget Today

d320c8u8 finance minister nirmala sitharaman

Budget 2020: The government is set to miss its fiscal deficit target for a third straight year

New Delhi:
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will announce her second Union Budget today. As India’s first full-time woman Finance Minister rises to reveal her answer to the frail economy, all eyes will be on each step she chooses to boost consumer demand and revive growth. Today’s Union Budget, a third within a span of one year, will seek to kickstart an economy staring at the worst pace of expansion recorded since the 2008-09 global financial crisis. The government is widely expected to raise spending on infrastructure and cut some personal tax to spur consumer demand and investment. The stock markets, which have been volatile ahead of the Budget day, will remain open for a special trading session.

Here are 10 things to know about Budget 2020:

  1. The Finance Minister is set to outline steps such as higher spending in rural areas and possible tax cuts in her budget speech scheduled at 11 am today.

  2. The government may relax its fiscal deficit target in the Budget as the economic slowdown lowered revenue collections and the government provided a tax stimulus to spur investments. Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian has in his Economic Survey favored relaxing the budget gap goal to boost economic growth.

  3. The Union Budget comes at a time when the GDP growth rate has been spiralling downwards in the last five quarters. It slowed to 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarter – the weakest pace since 2013.

  4. Consumer inflation – which is the rate of increase in consumer prices – has worsened to a more than five-year high thanks to rising prices of vegetables and especially onion, staying above the RBI’s goal for the third month in a row.

  5. Consumer confidence – which reflects various parameters such as employment, inflation, income and spending – is at the lowest level since 2014. It dropped to 89.40 points in the third quarter of 2019 from 97.30 points in second quarter of 2019, according to the RBI.

  6. The Finance Minister may announce a roadmap for investing the already-announced Rs 105 lakh crore in infrastructure over the next five years as this could go a long way in making India a $5-trillion economy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has increased state spending on roads, railways, airports and ports since assuming office in in 2014.

  7. The budget is expected to give a push to privatisation and set disinvestment target of Rs 1.5 lakh crore, after missing the target by a wide margin this year, the sources said. The government has already announced plans to sell Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, among others.

  8. Many groups expect bold ways to improve the health of the country’s ailing shadow banking sector, which has been battling a credit crunch since the collapse of IL&FS in late 2018 amid fraud allegations.

  9. HDFC has pitched for a one-time loan recast for realty projects as lenders are not able to write new loans for projects because a new borrowing by an entity which is already a non-performing asset becomes an NPA on day one.

  10. The Economic Survey has pegged gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 5 per cent in the current financial year, which it said would pick up to 6-6.5 per cent in financial year ending March 2021.

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