India budget to raise capex as jobs, infrastructure take priority

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and other finance ministry members on the way to present the budget at the parliament on Feb. 1, 2023.

Amarjeet Kumar | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

India’s government will raise its capital expenditure by 33% to 10 trillion rupees ($122.29 billion) in the next fiscal year, the finance minister said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to create jobs ahead of a general election.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi has ramped up capital spending including on roads and energy, while wooing investors through lower tax rates and labor reforms, and offering subsidies to poor households to clinch their political support.

“After a subdued period of the pandemic, private investments are growing again,” Nirmala Sitharaman said in parliament, referring to the Covid-19 crisis.

“The budget makes the need once again to ramp up the virtuous cycle of investment and job creation. Capital investment is being increased steeply for the third year in a row by 33% to 10 trillion rupees.”

After she revealed the big jump, ruling-party lawmakers thumped their desks as the camera moved to Modi.

A lack of enough jobs for young people in the country of 1.4 billion has been one of the biggest criticisms of the rule of Modi, who is still widely projected to win the general election due next year.

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