Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will begin her customary pre-budget consultations today starting with the representatives of the Indian industry, infrastructure sector representatives and climate change experts.

According to the ministry of finance, the minister will hold pre-budget meetings with the agriculture and agro-processing industry and financial sector and capital market sector on November 22. This will be followed by a meeting with the service and trade sector and social sector (health, education, rural development, and water and sanitation) on November 24.

On November 28, the finance minister will meet trade unions and labour organisations, and economists.

It may be noted that earlier, Sitharaman has accorded economic growth as the top budget priority. She said economic growth will be accorded the top priority in the upcoming budget during her official visit to the US last month and 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 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 had 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.

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