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Nirmala Sitharaman to match Morarji Desai's record when she presents sixth straight budget on Feb 1
Photo courtesy: UNI

Nirmala Sitharaman to match Morarji Desai's record when she presents sixth straight budget on Feb 1

| @indiablooms | 27 Jan 2024, 12:31 am

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to match the record of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai when she presents her sixth straight budget on February 1.

Sitharaman, the first full-time female finance minister in the nation, has delivered five complete budgets since July 2019 and is scheduled to present an interim or vote-on-account budget in the upcoming week.

With the interim budget on February 1, Sitharaman is set to exceed the achievements of her predecessors, including Manmohan Singh, Arun Jaitley, P Chidambaram, and Yashwant Sinha, all of whom presented five consecutive budgets.

Desai, during his tenure as finance minister, presented five annual budgets and one interim budget from 1959 to 1964.

The upcoming interim budget for 2024-25, to be presented by Sitharaman on February 1, is a vote-on-account, granting the government spending authority until a new government assumes office after the general elections in April-May.

Given the impending parliamentary elections, Sitharaman's interim budget is not expected to feature major policy changes.

She emphasized this point at a recent industry event, ruling out any "spectacular announcement" and describing it as a pre-election vote-on-account.

Once approved by Parliament, a vote-on-account allows the government to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India on a pro-rata basis to meet expenses from April to July.

The new government, likely to be formed around June, will subsequently present the final budget for 2024-25, possibly in July.

While interim budgets traditionally lack significant policy announcements, the government is not prohibited from addressing urgent economic issues.

After the Modi government took office in 2014, Arun Jaitley served as finance minister and presented five consecutive budgets from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

In a departure from tradition in 2017, Jaitley moved the budget presentation from the last working day of February to the 1st of the month.

In 2019, Piyush Goyal, holding the additional charge due to Jaitley's health issues, presented the interim budget on February 1, raising the standard deduction for salaried taxpayers and increasing the tax rebate for those with an annual taxable income not exceeding Rs 5 lakh.

Following the 2019 general elections, Sitharaman assumed the finance portfolio in the Modi 2.0 Government, becoming the second woman to present the budget after Indira Gandhi in 1970-71.

Sitharaman eschewed the traditional budget briefcase in favour of a 'bahi-khata' adorned with the National Emblem for carrying the speech and documents.

Under Sitharaman's leadership, India navigated the challenges of the Covid pandemic with a series of policy measures aimed at supporting the poor, maintaining its status as the fastest-growing major economy and a 'bright spot' in the global economy.

India's ambitious economic goals include reaching a $5 trillion economy by 2027-28 and $30 trillion by 2047.

As the finance minister from 1959 to 1964, Morarji Desai presented a total of five annual budgets and one interim budget, establishing a distinctive position in this historical record.

The first budget of Independent India was presented by the first Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty.

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