“I belong to the middle class, I know the issues”: the Minister of Finance before the budget

Nirmala Sitharaman said, “I also belong to the middle class so I understand the pressures

New Delhi:

Ahead of the union budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said she was aware of the pressures of the middle class but also noted that the current government had not introduced any new taxes on it.

Ms Sitharaman will present the union budget for 2023-24 in Lok Sabha on February 1 amid expectations that the government will raise the income tax threshold and provide relief to middle-class taxpayers, among others.

“I also belong to the middle class, so I can understand the pressures of the middle class. I identify myself with the middle class so I know that,” she said while speaking at a party organized by Panchgania, an RSS-linked weekly magazine.

At the same time, the minister reminded the audience that the current government has not imposed any new taxes on the middle class. She also added that income of up to Rs 5,000 is exempt from income tax.

She said the government has taken various measures such as developing the subway network in 27 cities and building 100 smart cities to enhance the ease of living.

The minister assured them that the government could do more for the middle class as its population grew and was now large.

“I am very aware of their problems,” she said, without making any commitment. “The government has done a lot for them and continues to do the same.” Ms. Seetharaman said that the government has been working to increase capital spending spending in every budget since 2020.

It said that for the current financial year, it has been increased by 35 per cent to Rs 7.5 crore as it has a multiplier effect on the economy.

In terms of the banking sector, she said, the government’s four-pronged strategy – recognition, recapitalization, resolution and reform – has helped revive Public Sector Banks (PSBs).

As a result, she said, non-performing assets have declined and PSB’s health has improved dramatically.

The government has implemented an unprecedented recapitalization program for PSBs worth Rs. 2.11 lakh crore to support capital adequacy and prevent default.

PSBs have turned the corner during 2020-21 with a combined net profit of Rs 31,820 crore buoyed by massive redemption, drop in NPA and windfall gains in their bond portfolio.

Thereafter, the consolidated profit doubled to Rs. 66,539 crore in FY22 despite the pressure of COVID-19. They have booked collective losses of Rs. 2,07,329 crore for five consecutive years from 2015-16 to 2019-20.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said last month that the total NPA ratio of banks has fallen to a seven-year low of 5 percent, and the banking system remains healthy and well-capitalised.

Speaking about the farmers, Ms. Sitharaman said that the government is committed to doubling their income and has taken various steps in this direction.

Regarding trade with Pakistan, she said, the neighboring country had never offered most-favored-nation (MFN) status to India. She said trade relations with Pakistan have been damaged since the Pulwama terrorist attack in 2019.

With regard to free offers, the minister said, the promises must be made taking into account the financial situation of the state and there must be complete transparency regarding them.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by the Alendronaterx staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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