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Highlight of interim budget is emphasis on capex: FM Sitharaman in Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said the highlight of interim budget is the emphasis given by the government on capital expenditure and sustaining pace of economic growth.

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She was replying to the general discussion on the Interim Union Budget 2024-25, Finance Bill 2024 and the Interim Budget of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 2024–25 in Rajya Sabha.

The minister emphasised that capital expenditure for creation of public infrastructure is growing faster than real GDP growth.

"With the capital expenditure being in the focus, in the last 3-4 years, we have made sure that our debt management is done in such a way that we honour the glide path for fiscal deficit that we had given in 2021," the minister said.

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She emphasised that money spent on capital expenditure gives return compared to revenue expenditure.

"So public investment in infrastructure gives us greater returns," she said, and added the government is making sure that fiscal deficit is managed without hurting any projects.

Responding to criticism made by certain MPs on reduction in Budget allocations under various heads, Sitharaman said no major flagship programme has been curtailed nor she has reduced allocation.

On the references made regarding Global Hunger Index, the minister said it is not a balanced approach to measure hunger and "lets be conscious of it".

She also informed the House that unemployment rate in rural areas has decreased from 5.3 per cent in 2017 to 2.4 per cent in 2023. PTI MBI NKD HVA

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