Taking a dig at Congress leader P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the fiscal deficit was at a record high during the UPA regime when the economy was handled by competent doctors.
She was referring to remarks of former Finance Minister Chidambaram on Monday that the "economy was perilously close to collapse and was being attended by incompetent doctors."
Replying to the opposition charge of government overshooting fiscal deficit target prescribed in Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, she said the Narendra Modi government has always respected the FRBM and kept the discipline of FRBM Act.
The primary deficit under the Congress-led UPA government never came below 1% of the GDP while during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government "we have managed to keep it below 1%," she said.
"Some hard truth you will have to hear. 2008-09 fiscal deficit was 6.1%, 2009-10 6.6%, 2010-11 4.9%, 2011-12 5.9%, 2012-13, 4.9%, 2013-14 4.5%. So when we are talking about fiscal deficit, let us please concentrate and understand when economies are managed by very competent doctors," she said.
Compared to this, she said, the government under Narendra Modi has been consistently bringing down fiscal deficit.
Reeling out numbers, the finance minister said during 2014-15, the fiscal deficit came down to 4.1% of GDP, 2015-16 3.9% of GDP, 2016-17 3.5% of GDP, 2017-18 3.4% of GDP and 2018-19 3.4% of GDP.
For the current financial year, she said, the budget pegged the fiscal deficit at 3.3% while in revised estimate it was raised to 3.8% of GDP and for 2020-21 the target is 3.5% of GDP.
She emphasised this government is fully conscious and taking all necessary and adequate steps to ensure all sectors are given importance.