Interim Budget 2004-2005
Minister of Finance
February 3, 2004
1. I rise to present an Interim
Budget, for part of the fiscal year 2004-05. This seeks a Vote-on-Account to enable the
Government to discharge its responsibilities and to meet all essential expenditure during
the first four months of 2004-05. The Demands for Grants and the Annual Financial
Statement presented are, however, for the full financial year, though, these could be
revised, as is normal, at the time of presentation of the regular Budget. I am also
introducing a Finance Bill, seeking to continue the existing tax structure for the
2. Under the premiership of Shri
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, this is the seventh successive budget of the Government of the
National Democratic Alliance (NDA). On this occasion I share with the country and the
House a sense of great satisfaction at the robust showing of our national economy, and
also express our sincere gratitude for the cooperation, support and encouragement that the
people of India have so consistently and so ungrudgingly given to the NDA and to its
Government. The countrys macro-economic situation is better than it has ever been in
the last fifty years. Internationally, too, there is now much greater, and a much more
widespread recognition that India is progressing in all spheres of national endeavour,
that it has evolved into a stable economy, with assured growth, and enhanced national
II. NDA: ECONOMIC POLICY APPROACH AND
3. This Government has consistently
placed the citizens well being at the core of its responsibilities. Our adherence to
Panch priorities remains. The objectives of the life-time concerns of
our citizens: enhanced employment, and eradication of poverty; a second green revolution
in agriculture; infrastructure development; fiscal consolidation; and greater
manufacturing sector efficiency, are our solemn commitments.
4. We believe, Sir, that both are
necessary: a vision for a resurgent India and, simultaneously an awakening so that the
disadvantaged of our land are lifted beyond poverty. We hold that economic development is
not about economics alone, it is always, simultaneously, a political statement too, for
development devoid of compassion is a misnomer. Of course, growth statistics
are very important; they are vital inputs, but they must also be the indices that assist
us in designing distributive justice. It is for this reason that gross national
contentment is so important, as the catalyst that motivates redoubled national
endeavour. It is from seeking national contentment that objectives are born: "Garib
ke pet me dana, Grihini ki tukia mein anna." Sir, India must be amongst the
leading economies of the word, that simply put is our national destiny; to be in service
of the countrys destiny is the Governments honour and its bounden duty. From
this directly flow our national economic objectives.
5. Economic growth indices,
in the current year, Mr. Speaker, are very encouraging. With inflation at 4 to 4.5 per
cent, this year we expect the growth rate of our GDP to be between 7.5 and 8 per cent.
Though, there are higher growth estimates that have been made, for the present, we prefer
to remain with the cited figures. This level of growth is a matter of great satisfaction.
Sir, employment has increased, but so have expectations. We must meet this challenge. Bold
initiatives in infrastructure have already generated several layers of immediate
employment, simultaneously laying the foundation for additional quality employment across
a broad spectrum of economic activity. The objective of enhancing job opportunities will
be pursued vigorously. Our foreign exchange reserves crossed US$100 billion on December
19, 2003. They continue to grow, liberating us from the mentality of want. For greater
openness and to share necessary information with citizens, the first ever Report of the
Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on Foreign Exchange Reserves is being released today. It can
be accessed on the Ministrys, as well as the RBIs website.
6. Sir, a combination of moderate
inflation, declining interest rates, and healthy capital markets has set our economy on
the path of accelerated growth. To further encourage this is our responsibility.
Preserving the strength of our macroeconomic fundamentals has, therefore, to be much more
focused. Management of the economy is a continuing responsibility, governance can neither
pause nor cease, and measures to fully consolidate, and continuously enhance the growth
momentum must always be adopted in time. Only in that manner can we realise the vision of
economic and social progress that we have cherished since independence.
III. INITIATIVES AND THE ROAD AHEAD
Antyodaya Anna Yojana
7. Antyodaya Anna Yojana, launched
by the Prime Minister in December 2000, currently covers 1.5 crore families below the
poverty line (BPL). This is a highly successful programme, widely acclaimed. It directly
addresses poverty alleviation and nutritional adequacy. This programme is now being
extended by increasing its coverage to 2 crore BPL families. Whilst doing so, it will be
ensured that tribal states, districts, or belts receive added allocations. This will be
effective from April 1, 2004.
Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha
8. Poverty and disease are
interlinked. Specialty hospitals in the private sector remain beyond the reach of many of
our citizens. The Prime Minister had, therefore, last Independence Day, announced the
establishing of six hospitals, in the Government sector, on the pattern of All India
Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS). This Pradhanmantri Swasthya Suraksha
Yojana envisages six new AIIMS like hospitals, one each in the States of Bihar,
Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, and Uttaranchal. Honble Members are
doubtless aware that no additional hospital on the pattern of AIIMS has been set up by any
Government, since 1956. I would also like to mention that under this Pradhanmantri
Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, one medical college each in the six States of Andhra
Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal will
also be upgraded to the level of AIIMS.
9. I am happy to announce that a
provision for both these schemes has been made in this Budget itself.
10. The Government is committed to
ensuring the availability of timely credit at affordable rates to our farmers, and
to other citizens in rural India. For this objective, the following additional measures
will be taken:
In July, 2003, a reduction in the rate
of interest for crop loans by public sector banks to 9 per cent was announced. The
NABARD Act was also appropriately amended. I have been urging the Indian Banks
Association to further lower the interest rates for agricultural purposes. Some public
sector banks have already done so. I am confident that other banks will also respond by
offering loans at rates lower than those prevailing currently.
Traditionally, banks have sought
relatively higher security on credit for agriculture. To illustrate, banks insist on mortgaging
the entire land holding of a farmer borrower, as security for advances for
agricultural purposes. Banks are, therefore, now being advised to assess individual
credit-worthiness and to not routinely insist on additional collateral through a mortgage
of the entire land holding. As a principle, collateral security should be proportionate to
the value of the loan.
Prescriptions relating to Non-Performing
Assets (NPAs), in relation to crop loan accounts, have posed problems in the
provisioning of credit to farmers where seasonality and uncertainty of farm incomes are
not fully captured. A Committee has been set up under Dr.V.S. Vyas, an eminent agriculture
economist, to address this issue. Suitable remedial measures will be recommended within 90
I expect all eligible farmers to be in
receipt of their Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) by March 31, 2004. To extend the benefit
of technological developments in the banking industry to rural India, the existing Kisan
Credit Card will hereafter be modified, upon individual request, for use on ATM machines,
wherever such facility exists.
A Farm Income Insurance Scheme has
been introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture in 20 districts, on a pilot basis. This
will be extended to 100 districts, of the country from the forthcoming Kharif season.
Details will be announced by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been
a remarkable success story, but only in some states of the country. NABARD has, therefore,
been asked to take up a special promotional campaign in the States where this programme is
yet to gather momentum. In the first phase, an intensive programme will, therefore, be
launched in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Public Sector Banks
will also supplement this effort in other States.
Tea is an important
agro-processing industry, employing a large number of our citizens in North Bengal, Assam,
the North-East and some of the Southern States. Currently, this industry is beset by many
problems. I had, therefore, tasked the Indian Banks Association to prepare a revival
package. This has now been finalized. Special Tea Term Loan, repayable in five years, with
a moratorium of one year, shall be provided. In case of small tea growers banks have
agreed to extend fresh working capital limits up to Rs.2 lakh, at an interest rate of 9
In addition, steps will be undertaken to
examine the feasibility of a debt amelioration scheme in the tea sector, too.
Sugar, another major
agro-processing industry of the country, generating substantial employment, currently
faces a complex web of problems. Government will, therefore, prepare a package for the
revitalisation of this industry, in consultation with all the stakeholders. In the
meantime, as a measure of temporary relief, restructuring of loans taken by sugar
factories will be examined by the lending agencies, including banks, in consultation with
RBI and NABARD.
11. Cooperative banks have
played a vital role in the delivery of rural credit. They, too, have a variety of problems
hampering their capacity to deliver credit at reasonable rates of interest. A scheme to
revitalize the cooperative credit structure, envisaging an outlay of about Rs.15,000
crore, to be shared between the Central and State Governments, in an appropriate ratio,
has been prepared. It is proposed to initiate this scheme as soon as the revised
regulatory framework has been put in place.
12. Cattle are a vital integral of
our rural economy. To give a boost to the entire gamut of this economic activity, such as
animal husbandry, dairying and sheep rearing, the Government will consider the setting up
of a National Cattle Development Board with appropriate budgetary support.
Laghu Udyami Credit Cards
13. To further encourage the
development of small-scale and self-employed ventures steps have been taken to liberalise
Laghu Udyami Credit Card scheme, providing small and medium enterprises easier access to
bank credit. It has now been decided, in consultation with IBA, that the public sector
banks will increase the credit limit of their cards, for borrowers who have a satisfactory
track record, from Rs.2 lakh to Rs.10 lakh. Banks are being advised to make the modified
scheme operational from March 1, 2004.
Stamp Duty Reform
14. A comprehensive reform of the
entire stamp duty regime is being addressed in consultation with State Governments, as
high stamp duty increases transaction costs, restricting economic activity. The Government
has, in the meantime, decided to reduce stamp duty on all such instruments where the
authority to fix rates is of the Central Government. As a first step, and as the first
reduction, the existing stamp duty structure is being halved, that is, being reduced by 50
per cent on all Central Government stamp papers. As for duty on Receipts, here too, the
threshold for payment of stamp duty is to be increased from Rs.500 to Rs.50,000. As,
however, this last reform requires an amendment to the Act, it can not be taken up at this
15. The district of Nicobar, in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is one of our remotest districts. These islands, separated by
vast distances across the sea are relatively inaccessible. Therefore, in the Nicobar group
of islands, a hard area allowance at the rate of 25 per cent of basic pay will, with
effect from April 1, 2004, be paid to all Government employees posted there.
16. Due to high cost of
construction, consequently the high rentals prevailing in this region, and as directed by
the Prime Minister it has been decided that the status of Port Blair be raised from a
C to a B-1 class city, for purposes of house rent allowance (HRA).
Simultaneously, rural areas of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the
entire Union Territory of Lakshadweep will also stand upgraded from their existing status
of unclassified to C class city, for the purpose of payment of
this allowance. Consequently, HRA will also be raised from 7.5 per cent to 15 per cent of
the basic pay in all other areas of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as
well as in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. The status of State of Goa is also being
raised from C to B-1, from April 1, 2004, for the purposes of HRA.
17. The desert areas of the country
are under a variety of stresses. Most of them are also either border districts or are
contiguous to it. Last year, I had announced the Maru Gochar Yojana, a special
programme for rehabilitation and development of traditional pasture lands in the desert
districts of Rajasthan. I am glad to inform Honble Members that implementation of
this programme has commenced. I now propose to establish a Task Force for Integrated
Development of Desert Areas, with a mandate to address the problem of sustainable
livelihood in our deserts. This Task Force will review all relevant current programmes,
identify gaps, define thrust areas, and make appropriate recommendations. It will also
examine the establishment of a Rural Technology Centre, in one of the desert districts,
and give its recommendations in this regard.
18. The Indira Gandhi canal project
has languished for decades, slowly inching its way, year after year, through the desert.
Considering the inordinate delay in its completion and the critical importance of water in
our desert areas, this canal project will, hereafter, be accelerated through a fresh
Centre-State initiative, including additional, innovative funding. Similarly, for an
extension into Rajasthan of the Narmada Canal too, the Ministry of Finance will work with
the Government of Rajasthan and assist it in financing an early completion.
Kutch and adjoining districts
19. At present, new industrial units
in the Kutch Districts of Gujarat, established during the period from July 31, 2001 to
July 31, 2004 and which start commercial production on or before July 31, 2004 are exempt
from excise duty. In order to give some more time for completion of such projects, I am
extending the last date, for setting up of such new units, from July 31, 2004 to December
31, 2004. The period of exemption from excise duty will continue to be five years from the
date of start of commercial production.
Water Scarcity in Metropolitan Cities
20. Several initiatives have been
taken by this Government to address the vital question of providing an assured supply of
potable water to rural India. Metropolitan cities have until now had to address this
shortage through either their own municipal resources or on the strength of support
received from their respective State Governments. The need and demand for water has grown
much faster than additional supply measures. The Prime Minister has, therefore, decided to
initiate an accelerated drinking water supply scheme for mega cities, such as Bangalore,
Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad. The provision for existing Central scheme for infrastructure
development in mega-cities will be augmented by accessing the Infrastructure Fund, the
Life Insurance Corporation and other such funding sources. Details will be finalised by
the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the scheme is operational by March 1, 2004.
21. Government has now decided upon
the venues for four global standard international convention centres, to be established
through private-public partnership. I am glad that two of these will be located in the
metropolitan cities of Delhi and Mumbai, and one each in Goa and Rajasthan. Both Goa and
Rajasthan have great tourism potential, but need more infrastructural facilities. Goa will
thus also be enabled to provide suitable facilities for holding international film
festivals. So that the convention centre in Jaipur functions effectively, the airport in
Jaipur will be converted into an international airport. Details of all these will be
22. There is no alternative to
development finance. Steps to revive and re-structure the Industrial Development Bank of
India (IDBI) are already in hand. In accordance with the mandate of the Parliament, the
Ministry of Finance is committed to preserving and strengthening the IDBIs role as a
development financial institution.
23. The current economic growth
pattern requires continuous and added investment. For this, finance has to be made
available timely, at reasonable rates and in a coordinated manner. Since the restructured
IDBI has the requisite expertise, also experience in project appraisal, funding and
coordination, it has been decided to designate IDBI as the lead developmental finance
institution. Government will provide necessary support to IDBI for this task. IDBIs
effort will be complemented by other premier institutions and banks such as the
Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation and the State Bank of India.
24. Similarly, the Industrial
Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) will be restructured through transfer of its impaired
assets to an Asset Reconstruction Company and merger with a large public sector bank. Both
these institutions, the IDBI and IFCI, should be functional in the new financial year
after their transformation.
25. The Agricultural Infrastructure
and Credit Fund, the Small and Medium Enterprise Fund, and the Industrial Infrastructure
Fund will be operational shortly. All the three funds will, without compromising the norms
of financial prudence, provide credit at highly competitive rates, which is expected to be
2 percentage points below the Prime Lending Rate (PLR).
26. I wish to reiterate that the
Agricultural Infrastructure and Credit Fund will provide credit support to infrastructure
facilities such as wasteland development, completion of existing but incomplete minor
irrigation projects plus new minor irrigation works, grading, certification, and storage
of agro-products, and construction of modern abattoirs. This Fund will be called Lok
Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Fund. Similarly, the SME Fund will address the problem
of inadequacy of financial resources, at highly competitive rates for the small-scale
sector, and a lack of SIDBI coverage for some of the medium-sized enterprises. The
Industrial Infrastructure Fund will provide credit at highly competitive rates for power
generation, seaports, airports, roads, tourism, telecommunication, and urban
infrastructure like municipal services, water supply, sewage disposal and environmental
Defence Modernisation Fund
27. The process of defence
procurement often extends to over three years. Adequate and a committed availability of
funds, over such a period, for defence modernisation and weapons systems acquisition needs
a satisfactory resolution. It has accordingly been decided to establish a non-lapsable,
Defence Modernisation Fund of Rs.25,000 crore. This will commit availability of adequate
funds for the purpose. The Fund will be made available to the Ministry of Defence from the
new financial year.
28. The Fifth Central Pay Commission
had recommended that Dearness Allowance (DA) should be merged with basic pay whenever the
DA exceeds 50 per cent of pay. At present, DA is at 59 per cent of pay. The Government
having re-examined this recommendation in depth has therefore, decided that DA, to the
extent of 50 per cent of pay, will be merged with basic pay. This will take effect from
April 1, 2004.
29. Some necessary changes in Income
Tax procedures require the amendment of the Income Tax Act. While changes in the Act are
currently not being proposed, it is the conviction of the Government, also our commitment
Fiscal benefits available to new projects
in the power sector should be extended up to 2012, instead of 2006, and also be available
to cases of take-over from State Electricity Boards.
The regime of listed equities acquired on
or after March 1, 2003 being exempt from long-term capital gains tax should be extended
for a further period of three years, so as to provide stability.
More than 90 per cent of world shipping
tonnage is subject to very low levels of taxation. To provide a level playing field so
that Indian shipping becomes internationally competitive, a tonnage tax scheme, with
notional income at a fixed rate, on the basis of net registered tonnage should be
Farmers face hardship on account of levy
of tax on capital gains, and accrued interest on enhanced compensation, when their
agricultural land is acquired by the Government. The Government believes that capital
gains on such acquisition should be exempt from tax. There should also be no deduction of
tax at source on the interest earned on enhanced compensation for acquisition of such
30. Business Process Outsourcing
(BPO) has scope for employment generation. It has been clarified that if outsourced
services are ancillary and auxiliary in nature and adequate remuneration is paid to the
Indian call centre, then there shall be no tax on such foreign company as has outsourced
its activity to India. This policy is on the lines of OECD norms and double taxation
31. It is also the conviction of the
Government that for the salaried class, which doubtless has the best track record of tax
compliance, the issue of revising the standard deduction for Income Tax purposes has now
to be revisited. Furthermore, the tax treatment of family pension of war widows merits a
review so as to enable them to live a life of dignity. We also need to revisit the present
exemption limits and to realign them appropriately.
32. For consolidating the growth
process, the Government has already announced some measures on January 8, 2004. These
steps were timely and necessary. I shall not repeat them.
33. To enable our domestic industry
to compete with imported capital goods, which are currently subject to a 10 per cent basic
customs duty, I have already reduced such duty on a number of raw materials, intermediates
and components for their manufacture. This has removed an anomaly.
34. A suggestion has been made that
wherever there is exemption from countervailing duty on an imported capital good, deemed
export benefits ought to be given to the very same capital good, indigenously
manufactured. There already exists a scheme for giving deemed export benefits for
specified projects, where procurement is through international competitive bidding.
Ministry of Finance, in consultation with Ministry of Commerce, will nevertheless, examine
this suggestion in order to provide a level playing field to domestic manufacturers.
35. The Task Force on Power Sector
Investment and Reforms has recommended exploring the possibility of making countervailing
duty for the power sector cenvatable. This suggestion, too, will be examined.
36. In the last budget, exemption
from excise duty on residual fuel oils for generation of power, available only to units
licensed under the Electricity Act 1910, was extended to generating companies licensed
under the Electricity Supply Act 1948. It has been requested that this exemption, for
units licensed under the 1948 Act, may now be made applicable retrospectively, whenever
electricity was supplied to State Electricity Boards, and the cost of generation was
governed by power purchase agreements. I believe that a suitable legislative measure for a
retrospective exemption of this nature should be considered.
37. To further reduce congestion at
the customs counters in the arrival halls of our international airports, free baggage
allowance is being raised from Rs.12,000 to Rs.25,000. Customs duty on such baggage is
also being reduced from 50 per cent to 40 per cent. This will be effective from today.
User-friendly tax administration
38. The move towards an improved tax
administration through greater application of IT, and a discretion-free, impersonal system
with lower compliance costs must continue. It is with this objective in mind, that I am
pleased to announce
round the clock electronic filing of
customs documents for clearance of goods, presently available in 9 customs formations will
be extended to 23 customs formations by March 31, 2004;
customs clearance will be based on
self-assessment and selective examination from June 30, 2004;
an 8-digit code classification of goods
for the levy of excise will be adopted by September 30, 2004, to bring greater
transparency, avoid classification dispute, and harmonise excise classification with
customs and EXIM Policy nomenclature;
compounding of offences under Union
excise rules, for quick settlement of disputes, will be introduced from June 30, 2004; and
e-filing of excise returns will be
introduced from June 30, 2004 to enhance excise automation and for better reconciliation
of revenue accounts.
39. To enable levy of tax on
services as a specific and important source of revenue, an amendment to the Constitution
is already in progress. In the interim, the service tax was extended to seven new services
in the last Budget. To facilitate the filing of returns and to reduce the compliance cost
under this important source of revenue, I am glad to announce that from January 2, 2004
only a simple verification is being made
for grant of registration for service tax;
there is a single registration and single
return for assesses providing more than one taxable service; and
service tax automation has been enhanced
by extending e-filing of returns and also their electronic scrutiny from 10 services to
all the 58 taxable services.
IV. REVISED AND BUDGET ESTIMATES
40. I must now inform the House
about the essentials of our book-keeping for the current year, as also for 2004-05.
Revised Estimates for 2003-2004
41. The Revised Estimates show a net
decrease in expenditure of Rs.11,143 crore as compared to the Budget estimates. This
reduction in expenditure has been achieved despite additional expenditure on Rural
Development, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Delhi Metro Rail Project and additional
budgetary support for the Railways.
42. Net tax revenues for the Centre
are estimated at Rs.187,539 crore compared to the Budget estimate of Rs.184,169 crore, an
increase of Rs.3,370 crore. Non tax revenue is estimated at Rs.75,488 crore, Rs.5722 crore
more than the estimated level of Rs.69,766 crore. Disinvestment receipts, at Rs.14,500
crore, are also higher than the budget estimate of Rs.13,200 crore.
43. The revised revenue receipts of
the Centre are estimated at Rs.263,027 crore, the fiscal deficit at Rs.132,103 crore which
is 4.8 per cent of the estimated GDP and the revenue deficit at Rs.99,860 crore which is
3.6 per cent of the estimated GDP.
44. I trust Sir, that Honble
Members would observe, and approve of the fact that the Government has demonstrated its
resolve about fiscal consolidation by performing better than the budgeted targets.
Budget Estimates for 2004-2005
45. In the budget estimates for
2004-2005, the total expenditure is estimated at Rs.457,434 crore, of which Rs.135,071
crore is for Plan and Rs.322,363 crore for non-Plan.
46. In order to strike the right
balance between the developmental needs on one hand and fiscal stability on the other, the
Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for Plan 2004-05 has been fixed at Rs.135,071 crore. This is
Rs.14,097 crore more than last year, indicating an increase of 11.6 per cent. Out of this,
an amount of Rs.81,367 crore is being provided as Budget support for Central Plan. This is
an increase of Rs.9,215 crore, or 12.8 per cent, over the last year. Similarly, the
Central Assistance for State Plans is Rs.53,704 crore, which is Rs.4,882 crore more than
last year. Should need arise for new schemes, such as Providing Urban Amenities in Rural
Areas (PURA), the Government will then provide additional allocations for such schemes.
47. The budget estimates for
2004-2005 show a net increase of Rs.16,218 crore in non-plan expenditure. The increase is
mainly in interest payments and debt servicing (Rs.4,945 crore), defence (Rs.5,700 crore),
grants and loans to State Governments (Rs.4,110 crore) and food subsidy (Rs.2,600 crore).
Revenue estimate and Fiscal deficit
48. Mr. Speaker, Sir, with these
proposals I estimate total revenue receipts of the Centre at Rs.290,882 crore, the fiscal
deficit at Rs.136,452 crore, which is 4.4 per cent of the estimated GDP and the revenue
deficit at Rs.89,860 crore, which is 2.9 per cent of the estimated GDP.
49. Sir, I had the honour of being
given the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance in July, 2002. I have served here for
just about a year and a half. During this period it has been my privilege to see the
Indian economy enter onto a sustained and robust growth path of around 7.5 to 8 per cent
per year. This has been possible only because of the reforms pursued by the NDA, as well
as by earlier Governments, of the contribution in this Ministry of my distinguished
predecessor, Shri Yashwant Sinha, and above all, of the support and leadership provided by
Prime Minister Vajpayee.
50. Under the stewardship of Shri
Vajpayee, the NDA Government, since March 19, 1998, has not only successfully weathered
the post-Pokhran economic sanctions; East Asian crisis; at least two major destructive
cyclones; an unprecedented drought; the devastating Bhuj earthquake; two border
stand-offs; the challenge of terrorism and insurgency; the gulf war; a global downturn;
uncertainty in oil prices, all these and much else. Despite these multiple challenges, the
Government, during this period, brought down the fiscal deficit to 4.8 per cent of GDP,
the revenue deficit to 3.6 per cent, and contained annual average inflation at around 4.8
per cent. Our revenue collection in the period 1998-2004, has gone up by about 83 per
cent, our capital markets are healthy, the UTI is a market leader again, our foreign
exchange reserves have nearly quadrupled to the never ever achieved level of over $100
billion, our GDP, in this period, has increased by almost 40 per cent, and to my belief,
national contentment, national confidence, and our collective resolve for achieving even
higher growth has now taken firm root.
51. Sir, I commend this interim
budget to the House.