Modi government releases India budget to get growth back up, plans structural reforms

Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the country ‘needs to invest heavily in infrastructure’ after she presented the annual budget statement to parliament. (Reuters)
Updated 05 July 2019

Modi government releases India budget to get growth back up, plans structural reforms

  • The government plans structural reforms to kickstart foreign and domestic investment
  • India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of growing India into a $5 trillion economy by 2024/2025

NEW DELHI: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unveiled the budget for 2019/2020 on Friday, seeking to reverse weakening growth and investment that threaten to take the shine off a recent landslide election victory.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, presenting the annual budget statement to parliament, said the government planned structural reforms to kickstart foreign and domestic investment.
Modi has set a target of growing India into a $5 trillion economy by 2024/2025 from $2.7 trillion that a government report on Thursday said will be done on the back of higher investment, savings and exports in the way China’s growth was propelled.
“We need to invest heavily in infrastructure, digital economy, job creation,” Sitharaman said, adding India is set to become a $3 trillion economy in the current fiscal year.
But economists say scaling up Asia’s third largest economy in rapid fashion will need bold reforms including freeing up land and labor markets, which Modi shied away from in his first term for fear of political backlash.
Capital Economics said in a note on Friday that reaching that target “is dependent in large part on achieving real GDP growth of 8 percent a year, which we think is unlikely.”
Land and labor reforms are difficult in a democracy like India and it seems unlikely Modi will risk drawing the ire of his Bharatiya Janata Party voters that re-elected him with a huge mandate.
India’s economy is also running into global headwinds with growth weighed down by trade wars and protectionism.
Asia’s third largest economy grew at a much slower-than-expected 5.8 percent in the last quarter, the weakest growth in five years and far below the pace needed to generate jobs for the millions of young Indians entering the labor market each month. And the unemployment rate rose to a multi-year-high of 6.1 percent in the 2017/18 fiscal year.
New investments proposals in 2018/19 fell to 9.5 trillion rupees, the lowest investment proposals recorded in 14 years, according to Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, a Mumbai-based think tank.


Saudi female student pilot aims high with flying ambitions

Updated 19 November 2019

Saudi female student pilot aims high with flying ambitions

  • Amirah Al-Saif is among the first batch of 49 female students

DUBAI: Saudi women aiming to emulate Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s feat, the Kingdom’s first female commercial pilot, now have that opportunity as Oxford Aviation Academy has opened its doors for them to take flying lessons and earn their licenses.

One those women raring to earn her pilot wings is 19-year-old Amirah Al-Saif, who enrolled in the aviation academy to fulfill her dream of flying for the Kingdom’s national carrier Saudi Airlines (Saudia).

“They have been very supportive of us females,” Al-Saif, who hails from Riyadh, told Arab News at the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow, when asked about her experience at the academy.

Al-Saif is among the first batch of 49 female students, with six of them already in ground school, expected to receive their licenses by the start of 2021 after a grueling course that requires them to first learn English, Mathematics, Physics and other basic knowledge subjects.

She is also the first in the family to have an interest in the aviation industry.

Student pilot Amirah Al-Saif, right, who hails from Riyadh, is the first in the family to have an interest in the aviation industry. (Supplied)

Those who pass the foundation program can then move on to ground school for practical lessons and ideally graduate in two years with three licenses: the Private Pilot License, Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot License.

Al-Saif considers herself lucky since she was not constrained take courses abroad for her pilot training, unlike Al-Maimani who had to leave the Kingdom to receive her license, as well as wait for a long time before being eventually hired by Nesma Airlines.

The flying school is located at the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and is an authorized branch of Oxford Aviation Academy based in the UK.

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