Union Budget 2018 won't be populist: NITI Aayog VC Rajiv Kumar

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NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Monday said the Union Budget 2018-19 would not be a populist budget, contrary to what many believe.

This is the last full-year budget of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government and certain sections of the media have been rife with reports about how the budget would be used to seek votes. Kumar, however, opines that the budget will mainly focus on improving the welfare of common man.

"I can say this with a great deal of confidence. The distinguishing feature of this government and also that of the prime minister is that they have never allowed any budget exercise to be a populist one," Kumar said, while talking exclusively to ANI.

"The Modi Government doesn't present budget for seeking votes like others and that is what you should expect this time. I hope and suppose that the budget will focus on sectors which will improve the welfare levels of our population," he added.

Kumar also believes that the budget will primarily focus on basic healthcare facilities, primary education, agriculture, infrastructure, and to expand the productive capacity of the economy; taking it to a higher growth trajectory.

Ahead of the budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to hold a meeting with 30 top economists of the country on January 10.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley; CEO, NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant; Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Rajiv Kumar; chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Bibek Debroy, and other members of the Economic Advisory Council will also be present.

Kumar also disclosed the agenda of the meeting to ANI.

He said that the meeting was a traditional practice since the formation of the NITI Aayog.

"We want to gather the views of as many people as we can. Views and suggestions for making this budget as relevant and as influential for the economic activity of the country," Kumar concluded.

The Budget Session of the Parliament is scheduled to be held from January 29 to February 9, while the second session will be held from March 5 to April 6.

The Budget will be presented on February 1.

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