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India plans to spend $134 bln on infrastructure, narrow fiscal gap – interim budget 2024

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New Delhi, February 01, 2024.

 India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday unveiled plans to spend nearly $134 billion on infrastructure and focus on long-term reforms to drive growth and contain the fiscal gap despite pressures to raise spending before elections.
She said the next generation of reforms will be carried out in consultation with state governments. The government has simplified India’s complicated tax structures, invested in new ports and roads but has struggled to liberalise land acquisition and labour laws.

Madhavan Menon, Executive Chairman, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said “The interim Budget presented by the Finance Minister has focussed on Tourism with a multipronged approach that we believe will create a multiplier effect across aviation, tourism and allied sectors, boosting growth and employment generation.

“We welcome the announcements on airport development and expansion: having already doubled to 149 airports in the last decade, the government’s plans to boost air connectivity by the addition of 517 new routes across Tier 2-3 cities, carrying 1.3 crore passengers via the UDAN scheme, will play a critical role with vibrant hub and spoke air corridors to boost accessibility-affordability for Regional India.

“Implementation of major rail connectivity corridors via the PM Gati Shakti program together with port and metro/rapid transport expansion will serve to create valuable multi modal connectivity for Tourism.

“We welcome the special focus on Domestic Tourism which represents a vibrant growth driver via the government’s plan of long-term interest free loans to States; development of iconic tourism centres by States along with marketing on global standards. What was noteworthy is the reference to Spiritual Tourism and projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure and amenities on islands including Lakshdweep – aimed at development of India’s hidden gems and employment opportunities.

Paritosh Kashyap, President & Head of Wholesale Banking Group, Kotak Mahindra Bank

“The budget’s strategic measures have not only solidified India’s status as one of the world’s fastest economy but also paved the way for rapid expansion, positioning the nation on a trajectory to reach $5- trillion mark. The advancements outlined will accentuate the remarkable ascent of India’s equity markets as a the fourth-largest, underscoring the resilience and potential of our economy and the landscape on the global stage. The measures announced have not only contributed to our economic resilience but have also addressed critical sectors such as real estate, logistics, GCCs and many others, which will lead to sustainable growth path. The holistic approach has also acted as a catalyst to foster financial inclusion and a cashless economy in our nation.”

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