The Team behind 2023 budget draft
The finance minister of India has long been the face of the Union Budget. After all, the FM is the person who rises to present the budget and makes them a larger than life personality. In a fast growing economy like India, the role of a finance minister is extremely important since the growth impulses of the economy have to be channelled properly. That is what the finance minister does. When Nirmala Sitharaman rises to present the Union Budget 2023-24 on 01st February 2023, there is an important point to remember. Behind the Finance minister and the Union Budget is a sharp crack team of high quality professionals who along their respective teams are burning the midnight oil to make the budge ta reality.
Budget 2023 comes amidst domestic and global headwinds. Exports are falling and trade deficit is widening. Global inflation is being imported and global interest rates are being transmitted to India. Above all, there is the problem of inflation, rising input costs, rising cost of funds and risks of a global recession. It is in this backdrop that the Union Budget 2023-24 will be presented. Here is a quick look at the key members of the core team that will be responsible for the Union Budget.
Core Budget team for Budget 2023-24
Here are the key members of the core Union Budget team for F23-24.
Nirmala Sitharaman, as India’s tough talking finance minister, needs no introduction. An alumnus of JNU, she has successfully navigated the Indian economy through a very difficult and challenging 3 years. Her focus on monetary and fiscal support for the markets amidst the COVID pandemic was largely responsible for Indian economy sailing through smoothly. This will be the fourth successive budge that she will present. She now has the tough task of revising growth back to pre-COVID levels, cutting inflation rapidly and managing the transition of India from a $3.4 trillion economy to a $5 trillion. The biggest challenge will be to lower the fiscal deficit with a glide path of 4.5%.
TV Somanathan a senior bureaucrat of the Tamil Nadu cadre is in the all-important role of Finance Secretary handling expenditure department. One of his big contributions in the last few quarters has been encouraging the capex to be boosted by the government, even if it means cutting down on other revenue outlays and non-merit subsidies. He is a multi-faceted personality being a writer, online reviewer; holding an impressive CV with qualifications comprising an ACA and ACS, apart from being a PhD in economics.
Ajay Seth is the secretary in charge of the Department of Economic Affairs. Seth has a key role to play in the Union budget and works more as a person reconciling the internal and inherent conflicts between monetary policy and fiscal policy. Seth is also the chairman of the G20 central bank.
Tuhin Kanta Pandey is best known for his role in pushing through the disinvestment process at the earliest. He is secretary Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which had replaced the Planning Commission. He is closely involved in setting disinvestment targets and identifying the list of public sector players ripe for disinvestment. For FY23, the disinvestment target was pegged at just about Rs65,000 crore. It remains to be seen what is the target set for year FY24.
There are also other members in the core budget making team. These include Sanjay Malhotra, a 1990-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre. Malhotra was recently shifted to the Revenue Department from the Department of Financial Services. He plays a key role in revenue expectations for the coming fiscal year. Then there Vivek Joshi, who was recently appointed the Secretary of the Department of Financial Services. Finally, there is the suave V Anantha Nageswaran, who combines the best of academic rigor and industry experience as the chief economic adviser (CEA). He had a small role in the previous budget as he had been just appointed. It would be a much bigger role this year.
This is the core seven member team that will ensure the presentation of the Union Budget in February. Of course, these members are supported by large expert teams and outside professionals. The budget that the finance minister presents this year will be a culmination of all these efforts.
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