Signalling a recovery, merchandise exports in January 5.4% from a year before, the highest since September 2020 and compared with a 0.1% rise in December, showed the preliminary estimate of the commerce ministry. Imports, too, recorded a second successive month of growth, though the pace of expansion slowed from the January level, reflecting the fragile state of domestic demand. Trade deficit narrowed to $14.75 billion in January from $15.44 billion in the previous month.
The Union Budget has lined up the highest-ever capital expenditure (capex) plan of Rs 2.15 lakh crore for the Indian Railways for the financial year 2021-22. This is 29% compared to the capex plan for 2020-21, which was Rs 161,042 crore. This is going to be spending on major infrastructure projects of the railways including the construction of new lines, doubling, tripling and electrification, overhauling of the existing signalling and telecommunication system, station redevelopment and introduction of modernized rolling stock.
The government has extended its Rs 111-lakh-crore ($1.5 trillion) National Infrastructure Pipeline to cover more projects by 2025 in an effort to shore up economic growth as the nation recovers from the pandemic-induced recession.
Allocating an enhanced outlay of Rs 1.18 lakh crore for the highways sector for 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said execution of flagship highways corridors as well as projects are bound to speed up. An allocation of Rs 91,823 crore was made to highways for 2020-21, which was revised to Rs 1.01 lakh crore.
The government has pegged a fiscal deficit of 9.5% of the GDP for the current fiscal with a plan to bring it down to below 4.5% by 2025-26. The government has pegged the fiscal deficit at 6.8% for the coming fiscal 2021-22.