Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that economic growth will be accorded the top priority in the upcoming budget. Sitharaman who is on an official visit to the US, also mentioned that amid the ongoing geo-political situation, energy and fertiliser prices are one of the key near–term challenges.

"Growth priorities will be kept absolutely at the top. Inflation concerns will have to be addressed. But then how do you manage growth will be the natural question. The momentum with which the Indian economy has come out of the pandemic and the momentum with which it will grow in the next year cannot be weakened. It will have to be a very carefully structured budget in which the growth momentum will have to be sustained," Sitharaman said during her engagement at the Brookings Institute amid her ongoing official visit to the US.

On the short term challenges for India, Sitharaman said both energy and fertiliser prices as well as the availability are the major challenges to the Indian economy in the near term.

The finance minister has held a high-level meeting with the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and is scheduled to meet World Bank President David Malpass during her official visit to the US. During her visit, Sitharaman will attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, as well as the G20 finance ministers and central bank governor (FMCBG) meetings. Nirmala Sitharaman left for the US late Monday evening.

A slew of bilateral talks too are lined up during the official visit beginning today. "The finance minister will take part in bilateral meetings with several countries, including Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bhutan, New Zealand, Egypt, Germany, Mauritius, the UAE, Iran and the Netherlands. The finance minister will also hold one-on-one meetings with leaders and heads of OECD, European Commission and UNDP," the ministry of finance said.

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