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Budget to be seen as part of mini budgets of 2020, says PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister on Friday expressed confidence that the Budget for 2021-22 would be seen as part of the packages announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the past 10 months to offset the impact of Covid-induced lockdowns.

“Perhaps for the first time in the history of India a finance minister had to present four-five mini budgets in the form of separate packages in 2020,” Modi told the media before Parliament’s started.

Sitharaman is scheduled to present the Budget in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

As businesses were almost shut in April last year due to the countrywide lockdown, announced to tackle the pandemic, the finance minister announced the first package in March. She followed these up with three more.

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The packages focused on vulnerable sections of the people, giving them free food, work under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act and direct benefit transfers, besides agriculture and micro, small and medium enterprises. They initiated reforms and linked some of them to the fiscal leeway given to the states.

The government claimed it, along with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), announced packages worth Rs 29.87 trillion, which is about 15 per cent of India’s GDP. Of this, the RBI’s measures constituted 6 per cent of GDP and the government’s 9 per cent. However, independent experts estimated the fiscal cost of the government measures at slightly more than Rs 3 trillion.

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Of the reforms announced by the finance minister in packages, three related to the controversial farm laws.

The 19 Opposition parties boycotted the president’s address to the joint sitting of on Friday, in solidarity with the farmers’ protests against the Acts.

Modi asked MPs to debate and discuss all the issues that concerned the people of the country, and hoped they would not shy away from contributing to fulfilling the people’s aspirations, by making full use of and following all the propriety of democracy.

“A golden opportunity has come before the nation to fulfil the dreams of the freedom fighters. There should be proper utilisation of this decade and, therefore, there should be discussion and presentation of different views this session for meaningful results, keeping in mind this entire decade,” he said. “I have full faith that all the members of will make this session more productive.”

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