Nirmala Sitharaman shares her plan for the middle class

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the central government will continue to work for the middle class, as she gears up to announce the Union Budget 2023 in less than three weeks. Sitharaman said she belongs to a middle class family and understands the pressures they face, adding that the BJP-led NDA government has not imposed any new tax on the middle class in any budget so far.

“I belong to the middle class and identify myself as middle class so I can understand them. The Modi govt has not levied any new tax on the middle class in any budget so far,” Sitharaman was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. She further highlighted that no taxes are levied on people who earn a salary up to Rs five lakh.

The finance minister also said the government will continue to “work for the middle class” in the upcoming budget.

“The middle class uses public transport the most and we brought the Metro to 27 places. A lot of middle class people are shifting to cities in search of jobs and we’re focusing on the goal of smart cities.We will continue our work for the middle class,” Sitharaman said.

India’s middle class, which comprises the biggest portion of the country’s population, has high expectations ahead of the upcoming budget on February 1. Since it will be the ruling government’s last full budget before the general elections in 2024, expectations are largely centered around taxation relief, healthcare and jobs.

However, the government may not have the leeway to meet all the aforementioned demands, as the worsening global economic environment could dent India’s GDP growth in FY24.

With the fiscal deficit already stretched and the current account deficit (CAD) at a nine-year-high, experts expect lower spending in the budget, with the possibility of a customs duty hike on some products as well. While there could be some spending to boost infrastructure and rural sectors, the government is likely to steer clear of providing any direct tax relief.

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