India to raise spending on job creation ahead of election

Jan 31, 2023, 11:43 AM | Updated: Feb 1, 2023, 4:04 am

A man on his tricycle carries transports vegetables at a wholesale market in Guwahati, India, Wedne...

A man on his tricycle carries transports vegetables at a wholesale market in Guwahati, India, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government ramped up capital spending by a substantial 33% to $122 billion in an annual budget presented to Parliament on Wednesday, seeking to spur economic growth and create jobs ahead of a general election next year. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

(AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government presented to Parliament on Wednesday an annual budget of $550 billion that calls for ramping up capital spending by 33% to spur economic growth and create jobs ahead of a general election next year.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said private investment was rising after the pandemic and the government should focus on driving growth.

India’s economy is projected to grow 7% in the fiscal year ending in March. The government forecasts growth of 6%-6.5% next year.

The country’s population is expected to overtake China’s in size this year, and its economy last year surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth largest.

But despite steady economic growth, the Modi government has struggled to quash unemployment concerns and is under pressure to generate enough jobs, especially as it faces key state polls this year and a general election in 2024, which it is favored to win.

“The budget makes the need once again to ramp up the virtuous cycle of investment and job creation,” Sitharaman said.

According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate stood at 8.3% in December, up from 6.5% in January 2022.

The government is aiming for a budget deficit of 5.9% of India’s gross domestic product for the 2023-24 financial year, lower than the 6.4% for this fiscal year.

Despite worries that the world economy is headed for a slump, the finance minister she was confident the country’s future was bright. “India is on the right track,” she said.

Apart from raising capital spending on construction of schools, airports, heliports and other infrastructure to $122 billion, the budget extended a $24 billion scheme to provide free grains to vulnerable households for one year.

The government will also increase by 66% its spending on providing affordable housing to the urban poor, Sitharaman said, and prioritize “green growth” with a $4.3 billion investment towards helping India meet its goal of going carbon neutral by 2070.

The budget also announced new tax relief measures aimed at bringing some respite for India’s large middle class. But it slashed spending by 30% on India’s rural jobs program, a boon for the country’s most vulnerable, triggering criticism from activists and the opposition.

On Wednesday, Modi praised the budget as laying a strong “foundation for the aspirations and resolutions of a developed India,” and said the government’s investment into infrastructure has increased by more than 400% since 2014 when he first became prime minister.

Sitharaman’s budget speech was briefly interrupted by opposition lawmakers chanting “Adani, Adani,” after a tussle between Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and a U.S.-based short-seller dominated headlines this week.

Political opponents have urged India’s market regulator to investigate Adani after the short-selling firm accused his conglomerate of stock market manipulation and accounting fraud. The allegations led investors to dump Adani-related shares, wiping out tens of billions of dollars worth of market value for his business empire.

Critics of the 60-year-old billionaire say his rise has been boosted by his apparent close ties to Modi. The Adani Group has denied the allegations.

The budget requires approval from both houses of Parliament, but it is bound to be enacted as Modi’s party holds a strong majority.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


biden crisis averted...

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office Friday evening.

2 days ago

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition, ...

Associated Press

US, Europe working on voluntary AI code of conduct as calls grow for regulation

The United States and Europe are drawing up a voluntary code of conduct for artificial intelligence as the developing technology triggers warnings

2 days ago

FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador speaks during the Idaho Republican Party...

Associated Press

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho's ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

3 days ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

3 days ago

FILE - Candles are lit on a memorial wall during an anniversary memorial service at the Holy Trinit...

Associated Press

Pain and terror felt by passengers before Boeing Max crashed can be considered, judge rules

Families of passengers who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia can seek damages for the pain and terror suffered by victims in the minutes before the plane flew nose-down into the ground, a federal judge has ruled.

4 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College ...

Associated Press

Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

India to raise spending on job creation ahead of election