New Delhi: A day after presenting the Interim Budget 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday defended her statement on presenting a ‘White Paper’ on pre-2014 United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, saying there couldn’t have been a ‘better time’ than this for revealing the state of economy before BJP assumed power in 2014. The Finance Minister, in her first post-Interim Budget interview, said that this is the ‘right time to commission a white paper’.
Speaking to NDTV Editor-in-Chief Sanjay Pugalia, Sitharaman said, “We took the Indian economy from fragile to the top. This is why we are bringing in a white paper now. This is the right time.”
Sitharaman explained that when Narendra Modi-led BJP government took to power in 2014, the economy was in bad shape but the Prime Minister made it a point not to reveal the ‘fragile economy’ to the world as this would have sent a worrying signal to the industry & businessmen and nobody would have thought of investing in one of the fastest-growing economy.
She said that the pre-2014 economy suffered from policy paralysis & corruption but the Modi government ‘kept the people first’ and silently & rigorously worked over the years to turn the economy from ‘fragile to robust’ state.
“If we had brought a white paper at that time, nobody would have invested in the country looking at the fragile state of the economy,” Ms Sitharaman explained.
For the uninitiated, Finance Minister in her Interim Budget 2024 said that the government will bring a White Paper to show the mismanagement of economy prior to 2014, so that people could compare & infer their conclusions.
“It is now appropriate to look at where we were then till 2004 and where we are now, only for the purpose of drawing lessons from mismanagement of those years. The government will lay a White Paper on table of the House,” she had announced.
Notably, the Narendra Modi-led NDA came to power in May 2014 after ending a 10-year reign of the Congress-led UPA government.
In her first interview post the Interim Budget, Sitharaman also expressed confidence that people will vote BJP back to power for the third consecutive term, owing to its strong connect and belief in Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing the ‘no-populist’ announcements made in the Interim Budget, she said her government has always prioritised empowerment over sops and bonanzas.
“We are confident because people’s faith in the PM is unwavering... Because in the last 10 years, we not only announced pro-people schemes, but worked hard to make sure that every last eligible person benefited from these policies. We did what we promised,” Sitharaman told the news channel.
She told NDTV that the Modi govt in its two tenures not only announced pro-people schemes, but also worked whole-heartedly to implement and ensure that they reach the ‘last man standing’ in the queue.
“People blessed us the first time (and) the second time... And it will happen this time too,” she said. For the unversed, the Interim Budget is not a full-time Budget. A regular Budget outlines the country’s economic and financial trajectory for the entire financial year. The Interim Budget, on the other hand, gives an outline of the same, only for the transition period till the formation of the new government.
Sitharaman, while presenting the Interim Budget, had also recalled the government’s achievements and promised reforms for realising the ‘Viksit Bharat’ dream by 2047.
He remarks drew a lot of flak from opposition political parties, as they took dig at the Finance Minister saying she presented her ‘last Budget’. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav called it a ‘farewell Budget’, while the Shiv Sena said “FM poured cold water on people’s expectations”. (IANS)