Budget in 1st week of July; focus on sectors hit by crisis: FM

Budget in 1st week of July; focus on sectors hit by crisis: FM

Budget in 1st week of July; focus on sectors hit by crisis: FM

Racing against time to avert a second vote-on-account, Mukherjee said: "I would not like to have a second batch of vote-on-account... the budget will be presented in the first week of July". The budget will have to be passed before July 31, failing which another interim budget would be mandatory.

"We have identified issues and areas of concern that need to be addressed in this budget and will work closely with Manmohan Singh in presenting the first budget," Mukherjee said in an interview to private news channel CNBC-TV18.

The focus of the government policies would be "Aam Admi" (common man), the minister said, adding that the budget would address the problems of sectors like textiles, leather and gems and jewelery as they are the ones hit hard by the global financial crisis.

Immediately after being named as the Finance Minister, Mukherjee had told reporters: "Indian economy is resilient, strong and we shall have to build up and come back to the growth track as early as possible."

After being given additional charge of Finance Ministry before elections, Mukherjee had presented an interim budget in February and immediately after taking charge yesterday started consultation with top officials on budget.

"Aam Admi is to be at the focal point", Mukherjee said, adding that the manifesto proposed to increase the minimum wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme to Rs 100 per day.

Similarly, the issue of providing food security would get top priority, he added.

On the need for another stimulus package to boost the economy, Mukherjee said the government had since December last announced three packages while noting that signs of economic recovery in Europe are not promising.

Asked whether he would prefer growth to fiscal prudence, Mukherjee said, "What is needed is stimulus to growth, we cannot indulge in fiscal profligacy."

The job of a finance minister, he added, is to strike a balance between the competing demands of different sections of society.

Answering questions on economic growth, Mukherjee said 2008-09 growth will be close to the assessment made by the Central Statistical Organisation, which projected the economy to expand by 7.1 per cent in 2008-09.

As regards the current year, he said, things may start picking up in the second half. "I am hoping so. Some indications are available."

The capital inflow in April-May started picking up slowly but steadily, he said, adding "manufacturing is yet to pick up."

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