The Narendra Modi government poured extra money into support for farmers and a rural jobs programme, delivering on Friday its last budget before a general election due by May.
The interim budget for 2019/20 allocated Rs 60,000 crore for a rural jobs programme MNREGA and Rs 19,000 crore for building of roads in the countryside where two-thirds of Indians live.
The fiscal deficit in 2018/19 would be 3.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), slightly higher than the targeted 3.3 percent, acting finance minister Piyush Goyal told the lower house of parliament. Goyal was standing in for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was undergoing medical treatment in the United States.
The deficit was widely expected to be higher than targeted due to a combination of revenue shortfalls and increased spending ahead of the election.
"India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity," Goyal said.
"India has been recognised as brightest spot in the world in last 5 years. We are moving towards realising New India by 2022." "We have got decisive mandate to continue structured reforms. We have reversed policy paralysis," he said.
Stung by opposition victories in three state polls last month, and needing to call Lok Sabha elections by May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing growing discontent over depressed farm incomes and doubts over whether his policies are creating enough jobs.
India’s unemployment rate rose to a 45-year high during 2017-2018, Business Standard reported on Thursday. The assessment by the National Sample Survey Office conducted between July 2017-June 2018, showed the unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent, the highest since 1972-73.