Finance Minister discusses Union Budget 2013-14 for about an hour on Google+
BANGALORE, INDIA: On Monday, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram clarified about the nagging doubts on the minds of Indian citizens, especially those online, about the Union Budget 2013-14, as it marked the first occasion a Cabinet minister holding a Google+ Hangout.
During the Hangout, he stated that the Centre has done everything possible in the context of the constrained world economy. The FM also explained that the net borrowings would be up only by Rs. 5,000 crore to Rs. 4.84 lakh crore during this fiscal.
Offering further clarity on the global economic climate, Chidambaram pointed out that the EuroZone was reeling under recession, and Germany and the United Kingdom had contracted in the last quarter. "We are trying to stabilize our economy and get the growth engine started," he promised.
"In six years, we have grown by over 8 per cent. This year, we slipped to 5 per cent, but we can climb up again. We have not gone so very wrong that we have to wear sack-cloth and ashes," he added.
Along with the Finance Minister, there was an elite panel of personalities, such as Jahangir Aziz, senior Asia economist and India chief economist, JP Morgan; Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra; and Amit Singhal, senior vice-president, Google Inc.
If there is one issue that bothers almost all citizens, it is the concern over increase in prices of mobile phones above Rs. 2,000. But the minister made light of it and asked, "Can't somebody who is ready to pay about, say, Rs. 6,000 for a mobile phone, pay Rs. 300 more as tax?"
Expounding on the current account deficit, which hit a peak of 5.4 per cent of the GDP in the July-September quarter, Chidambaram said that if gold was not imported for one year, half of the deficit could be cut down, and the only way to meet the target was to increase exports.
He also added that the figure was likely to be less than the provisional figure of 5.2 per cent announced in the Budget. "We will not cross the red line of fiscal deficit. It will be kept at 4.8 per cent or below."
As far as disinvestment is concerned, the FM said that the government plans to raise Rs. 40,000 crore this fiscal. "We will raise Rs. 14,000 crore more by way of selling residual stake of the government in non-government companies," he added.
According to him, the Centre has collected Rs. 21,500 crore, as compared to the target of Rs. 30,000 crore.