Budget: I belong to middle class, understand their pressures, says FM

New Delhi: Ahead of the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Sunday that she was aware of the pressures of the middle class but also recalled that the present government has not imposed any fresh taxes on them.
Sitharaman will present Union Budget for 2023-24 in the Lok Sabha on February 1 amid expectations that the government will raise the income tax limit and provide relief to the middle class taxpayers, besides others.
“I too belong to the middle class so I can understand the pressures of the middle class. I identify myself with the middle class so I know,” she said while speaking at a function organised by the Panchjanya magazine, an RSS- associated weekly.
In the same breath, the minister reminded the audience that the present Modi government has not imposed any fresh taxes on the middle class. Also, she added, income of up to Rs 5 lakh is exempt from the income tax.
She said the government has taken various measures like developing the metro rail network in 27 cities and building 100 smart cities to promote ease of living.
The minister assured them that the government can do more for the middle class as its population is growing and it has become sizeable now.
“I quite recognise their problems. The government has done a lot for them and continue doing the same,” she said without making any commitment. Sitharaman said the government has been raising the outlay on capital expenditure in each Budget since 2020.
For current financial year, she said, it has been increased by 35 per cent to Rs 7.5 lakh crore as it has a multiplier effect on the economy.
Speaking about farmers, Sitharaman said the government is committed to doubling their income and has taken various steps in that direction.
On trade with Pakistan, she said the neighbouring country never offered Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. Trade relations with Pakistan have suffered since the Pulwama terror attack in 2019, she said.
With regard to freebies, the minister said, promises have to be made keeping in mind the financial health of the state and there has to be full transparency about it.

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