Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government unveiled what it called a budget for growth on Thursday and vowed to curb borrowing after the longest economic slowdown in a quarter of a century.
Delivering his maiden budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told parliament that India's 1.2 billion people were "exasperated" after two years of economic growth of below 5 percent.
He vowed that Asia's third largest economy would expand at a rate of 7-8 percent within three to four years. To open up India's economy, Jaitley announced that he would lift caps on foreign investment in the defence and insurance sectors. "We shall leave no stone unturned in creating a vibrant and strong India," Jaitley, 61, told lawmakers after climbing the steps of parliament and showing his budget briefcase to TV cameras.
Modi, 63, won a landslide general election victory in May with a pledge to create jobs for the 1 million people who enter India's workforce every month. He has since warned of the "bitter medicine" needed to nurse the economy back to health from high inflation and the worst slowdown since free-market reforms in the early 1990s unleashed an era of rapid growth. At the same time, Jaitley vowed to adhere to a "daunting" budget deficit target of 4.1 percent of gross domestic product that the new government inherited from its predecessor.
"I have decided to accept this challenge - one fails when one stops trying," Jaitley told a hushed lower house of parliament.