Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, announcing the Union Budget for 2019-20 in Parliament on Friday, said India will become a $3 trillion economy this year. The government planned structural reforms to kickstart foreign and domestic investment, the Finance Minister said. “We need to invest heavily in infrastructure, digital economy, job creation,” she asserted. Public-private partnership (PPP) for railways, increased FDI in media and aviation, the issuance of Aadhaar cards to NRIs without a waiting period of 180 days on arrival, and schemes to provide power, water and clean cooking facilities for all were among the highlights of her speech.
Here are 10 highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget speech:
1 “India Inc is job creator, wealth creator,” said Ms Sitharaman, adding that PM Narendra Modi’s target of making India a $5-trillion economy in next few years is imminently achievable.
2. She said the government will ease foreign direct investment (FDI) restrictions in single-brand retail, and open up FDI in aviation, insurance, media and animation sectors.
3. Ms Sitharaman also said the government will allow foreign investors to buy debt of listed real estate investment trusts.
4. Ms Sitharaman said non-resident Indians (NRIs) may get Aadhaar cards on arrival, without the mandatory waiting period. NRIs currently need to have spent 180 days to be eligible for an Aadhaar card.
5. The government will invest heavily in infrastructure and job creation, Ms Sitharaman said in her Budget speech. The government will upgrade 125,000 kilometres of roads over the next five years at a cost of $11.6 billion, she added.
6. The finance minister emphasised the need to strengthen infrastructure in order to enhance connectivity. Schemes such as Bharat Mala, Sagarmala and UDAN are bridging rural urban divide and improving transport infrastructure, she said.
7. India will also enter into aircraft financing and leasing activities, the finance minister said.
8. Railway infrastructure will need an investment of $72 billion between 2018 and 2030, the finance minister said.
9. In its Economic Survey 2019 prepared by the new Chief Economic Adviser KV Subramanian, the government projected the GDP or gross domestic product to grow at 7 per cent in financial year 2019-20, while outlining plans on how to double its economy by 2024-25 to $5 trillion.
10. Today’s Budget comes at a time when India has lost its top spot as the world’s fastest-growing major economy. India’s GDP or gross domestic product growth slipped to 5.8 per cent in the March quarter – the slowest pace in 20 quarters.