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Budget 2020: Nirmala Sitharaman to present her second budget today

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Feb 01: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will on Saturday present the Budget 2020 for the upcoming financial year in the Parliament.This will be the second time when Sitharaman will deliver the budget speech. She is only the second woman finance minister after Indira Gandhi to do so in the history of independent India.

The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Budget for the financial year beginning April 1, that may see measures to lift the economy from the worst economic slowdown in 11 years.

Earlier on Friday, Sitharaman tabled the Economic Survey 2019-20 which is released by Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Dr Krishnamurthy Subramanian. The Survey is a report the government presents on the state of the economy in the past one year, the key challenges it anticipates, and their possible solutions.

Before coming to Parliament for presenting her second budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her team met President Ram Nath Kovind.

She was accompanied by Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and top officials of her ministry including Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar.

"As per tradition, Finance Minister @nsitharaman calls on President Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan before presenting the Union Budget," tweeted the President of India''s handle along with two photographs from the meeting.

Like last year, Sitharaman opted for a traditional red-coloured ''bahi-khata'' to carry budget documents.

Dressed in a crisp yellow silk saree, she posed for cameramen at the Parliament House gate with the budget documents wrapped in a red silk cloth, adorned with a golden Indian emblem.

Facing the worst economic slowdown in more than a decade, Sitharaman is expected to pull out all stops to spur consumer demand and investment, government sources and economists said.

The real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is estimated to fall to an 11-year low of 5 per cent in FY20 from 6.1 per cent in FY19. Estimated nominal growth at 7.5 per cent in FY20 is the lowest since 1975-76 (FY76) as per the FY12-based GDP series.

Index of Industrial Production (IIP) growth turned positive but remained low at 1.8 per cent in November 2019 after contracting by (-) 4 per cent in October 2019.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation increased to a 65-month high of 7.4 per cent in December 2019, its fifth sequential rise, mainly due to persistently rising vegetable prices.

Also, growth in bank credit fell to a 25-month low of 8 per cent in November 2019.

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