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Nirmala Sitharaman continues as Finance Minister

The first challenge before Sitharaman, who holds Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degrees in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), is presentation of a full budget for the financial year 2024-25.
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 23:01 IST
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 23:01 IST

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New Delhi: Nirmala Sitharaman, who is the only woman to be included in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet for the third consecutive term, has retained the finance portfolio.

As per a press communique released by the President’s secretariat on Monday, Sitharaman has been allocated the portfolios of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Corporate Affairs. She held both these portfolios in the Modi 2.0 government as well.

The first challenge before Sitharaman, who holds Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degrees in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), is presentation of a full budget for the financial year 2024-25.

Sitharaman presented an interim budget for FY25 in February. The interim budget is technically a vote on account. Through this, the government received Parliament’s nod to meet its essential expenditure for the first four months of the financial year beginning April 2024. Full budget for the financial year 2024-25 is likely to be presented in July.

Born in Madurai on August 18, 1959, to Narayan Sitharaman, who worked in the Indian Railways, and Savitri, a homemaker, Nirmala Sitharaman was first inducted into Modi's cabinet in 2014 as commerce and industry minister. She was elevated as defence minister in 2017, becoming the first woman to hold the portfolio full-time.

She was given charge of the finance portfolio after the 2019 general elections, in the Modi 2.0 government. In 2019, she became the second woman to have presented the union budget after Indira Gandhi, who had presented the budget for the financial year 1970-71. Sitharaman is the first and only full-time female finance minister.

She has presented six consecutive budgets, including an interim budget in February 2024. The full budget for 2024-25, likely to be presented in July, will be Sitharaman’s seventh consecutive budget. With this she will surpass the record of Morarji Desai, who presented six budgets in a row. Former Prime Minister Desai holds the distinction of presenting the highest number of union budgets in independent India. He presented 10 budgets between 1959 and 1969.

Sitharaman is credited for steering the economy out of the Covid pandemic challenges. An array of policy measures introduced by the government has helped India emerge as the fastest growing large economy. During the financial year ended March 2024, India’s GDP growth accelerated to 8.2%. The India economy is estimated to grow at above 7% for the fourth consecutive year in 2024-25. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has pegged economic growth for the current financial year at 7.2%.

Continuing on the fiscal glide path will be a key challenge for Sitharaman in the upcoming budget. As BJP does not enjoy absolute majority the finance minister would be under pressure to address the demands of allies, especially TDP and JDU. Global ratings agency S&P recently said that it will closely observe India’s fiscal consolidation path for the next two years and could give a ratings upgrade if the government stays committed to the fiscal glide path.

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Published 10 June 2024, 23:01 IST

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