Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the interim Budget for financial year 2024-25 on February 1. This will be Sitharaman’s sixth consecutive Budget.
She presented her first full Budget in July 2019 after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) returned to power for a second term.
The Budget will also be the last major economic document before the general elections. A vote-on-account or interim Budget, once approved by Parliament, will authorise the government to withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund of India on a pro-rata basis. It will help meet the expenditure until a new elected government presents the full Budget, usually in July.
Sitharaman is backed by a strong team of bureaucrats and economists, who will chart the future strategy in the upcoming Budget. A look at the Budget team for 2023-24:
Sitharaman will be the second finance minister in the history of India to present a sixth consecutive Budget.
She will surpass her predecessors like Manmohan Singh, Arun Jaitley, P Chidambaram, and Yashwant Sinha, who had presented five Budgets in a row. Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai is the only other minister to hold this record.
For the interim Budget, Sitharaman has ruled out any “spectacular announcements” before the Lok Sabha elections. Her precedent doesn’t prevent her from announcing pre-election sops, though.
Sitharaman on Thursday said that the government policy would focus on youth, women, farmers and the poor, raising expectations of some key announcements for these priority groups.
Sitharaman will aim to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 5.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for FY24.
She is expected to stick to the glide path of reducing the fiscal deficit to 4.5 per cent of GDP by FY26.
Ahead of the interim Budget, the Centre’s fiscal deficit for the first eight months of the current financial year remained at a comfortable 50.7 per cent of the full-year target of Rs 17.87 trillion.
Sitharaman, who studied economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, has held the commerce and defence portfolios in Narendra Modi’s first tenure as Prime Minister.
Indo-Pakistan skirmishes of 2019 including the Balakot airstrike took place during her time as defence minister.
As the senior-most secretary among the five in the ministry of finance, Somanathan holds the charge of the finance secretary.
He is the secretary in the expenditure department.
A 1987 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, Somanathan worked in the Prime Minister’s Office from April 2015 to August 2017 and is known to be close to Modi.
A PhD in economics, the finance secretary has published more than 80 papers and articles on economics. He has also authored two books.
Between 2015 and 2017, Somanathan served as joint secretary in the ministry of corporate affairs and also worked as Director at the World Bank, Washington DC, on deputation.
A 1987 batch IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre, Seth is the secretary of the department of economic affairs in the ministry of finance.
Seth had been in the news last year due to his role as the officer in-charge of the finance track of the Group of 20 (G20) under India’s Presidency.
Seth also headed initiatives such as India’s first sovereign green bond issuance and creation of the infrastructure finance secretariat.
Tuhin Kanta Pandey
Secretary in the department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), Tuhin Kanta Pandey is known for leading the efforts towards the privatisation of Air India and the initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation of India. Pandey is a 1987 batch officer from the Odisha cadre.
For the fifth year in a row, the government is staring at missing the disinvestment target.
FY24 will probably have the lowest collection in disinvestment in a decade.
Malhotra, a 1990 batch officer from the Rajasthan cadre, is currently serving as revenue secretary prior to which he headed the Department of Financial Services.
A key player in the Budget exercise, Malhotra has to ensure that the tax revenue growth is maintained to keep the government on the fiscal consolidation path.
Malhotra is one of the key persons who drafts the Part B of Sitharaman’s Budget speech.
Vivek Joshi is one of the newest in the group of FM’s top advisors on Budget. He joined the finance ministry in November 2022 as secretary of the Department of Financial Services.
A 1989 batch officer from the Haryana cadre, Joshi holds a doctorate in international economics from the University of Geneva.
Before being appointed financial services secretary, Joshi was the registrar general and the census commissioner of India.
Some of the key financial sectors including banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, and the National Pension System would be under Joshi’s ambit. He will provide important inputs in the upcoming Budget.
V Anantha Nageswaran
A writer, author and teacher, V Anantha Nageswaran is the chief economic advisor to the Government of India. He is one of the closest advisors of Sitharaman on issues related to the economy. This includes global developments and their impact on the Indian economy.
Nageswaran, along with Seth, has been at the forefront of the finance track discussions representing India during the G20 Presidency.
Nageswaran is an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and holds a doctorate from the Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst.
While the chief economic advisor also releases the Economic Survey ahead of the Budget, this exercise would be skipped this time as it is an interim Budget.