Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday asserted that the Modi-led government’s fiscal management during 2014-24 was far better than that of the Congress-led UPA government (2004-14). This better performance on fiscal management came despite the Modi-led government facing the Covid- 19 pandemic in which substantial resources were used for relief efforts, Sitharaman said in a series of posts in social platform ‘X’, formerly Twitter.

Sitharaman noted that UPA’s legacy of fiscal shortsightedness and hidden debts contrasts sharply with the Modi-government era of transparent, strategic and transformative investments.

She slammed the Congress-led UPA for its policy misadventures and scams that caused huge losses to the exchequer, unsustainable demand stimulus post-2008, unproductive government borrowings, ill-targeted subsidies and running government schemes marred with corruption and leakages. 

Sitharaman’s ’X’ posts sought to compare the performance of the Congress-led UPA (2004-24) and Modi-led government (2014-24) as regards the movement of central government debt; fiscal deficit; net market borrowings of the centre; transparency in budgeting practice; centre’s spending on capex and infrastructure and India’s external debt as percentage of GDP.

Sitharaman also sought to know how Congress intends to finance the lofty promises made in their manifesto and noted that the lofty promises made by the party are non-transparent and disconnected from reality.

“Has @INCIndia considered the cost of the lofty promises made in their manifesto? Have they calculated how much the ‘Khata Khat’ schemes will cost fiscally? Will they borrow substantially for them, or will they raise taxes to fund them?”, Sitharaman asked.


During the UPA rule from FY04 to FY14, central government debt, including external debt at current values, grew about 3.2 times, from ₹18.74 lakh crore in March 2004 to ₹58.59 lakh crore in March 2014. 

This increase was much greater than the 2.9 times growth from ₹58.59 lakh crore in FY14 to ₹172.37 lakh crore in FY 2024 (RE), she said. 

This lower increase between FY14 and FY24 occurred despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the centre borrowed to provide relief to those in need even as revenues fell, Sitharaman noted.

The central government’s debt, which was 52.2 per cent of GDP at the end of FY13-14, was reduced to around 48.9 per cent in FY18-19 through gradual fiscal consolidation, she added.


During this period, the fiscal deficit was lowered from 4.5 per cent in FY13-14 to 3.4 per cent in FY 2018-19. 

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and proactive government measures to protect lives and livelihoods, the fiscal deficit surged to 9.2 per cent of GDP in FY20-21, increasing the central government’s debt to 61.4 per cent of GDP.

“Post-pandemic, our government pursued a balanced approach to fiscal consolidation while sustaining economic growth. This strategy reduced the fiscal deficit from 9.2 per cent of GDP in FY20-21 to 5.8 per cent in the revised estimates for FY23-24”, she said.

The Interim Budget projects a further reduction to 5.1 per cent of GDP in FY24-25. Similarly, the central government’s debt-to-GDP ratio fell from 61.4 per cent in FY20-21 to 57.1 per cent in FY23-24.

Under UPA, for 6 consecutive years between FY09 and FY 2014, the ratio of India’s Gross Fiscal Deficit (GFD) toGDP was at least 4.5 per cent. It was between 4.5 per cent - 5 per cent of GDP in 3 out of the 6 years, between 5 per cent - 6 per cent in one and more than 6 per cent in 2 years. “And there was no Covid-19-like crisis that needed such a quantum of fiscal expansion, showing poor fiscal management by UPA”, she said.


The net market borrowings (G-sec) of the centre had gone up a whopping 4.5 times during the UPA regime. “It went up by 2.6 times under our government despite the Covid-19 pandemic. It shows the robust fiscal management of our government”, she said.


Under the Congress-led UPA government, the underlying fiscal deficit was much higher than the budgeted deficit, she said. 

UPA government did ‘window dressing’ to hide its high fiscal deficit without maintaining the integrity of the fiscal numbers. The fiscal deficit for 2008-09 would have been 7.9 per cent instead of 6.1 per cent as officially stated, according to Sitharaman.

The UPA government issued special bonds in lieu of cash subsidies to the oil marketing companies (Oil Bonds),fertiliser companies, and FCI to keep the official deficit numbers lower. “Over ₹1.9 lakh crore was kept off the books in the five years from FY06 to FY10. Including these off-budget borrowings would have severely increased the fiscal and revenue deficit numbers”, Sitharaman said.


Sitharaman also noted that a cross-country comparison reveals that India has fared relatively well and maintains a general government debt ratio below that of FY03, Sitharaman said.

India had a debt-to-GDP ratio of 81 per cent in 2022. This is significantly lower than economies like Japan (260.1 per cent), Italy (140.5 per cent), the USA (121.3 per cent), France (111.8 per cent) and the UK (101.9 per cent) in the same period. On the other hand, several countries have faced the risk of sovereign default in recent years, Sitharaman said.

Number of countries facing high debt levels increased from 22 in 2011 to almost 60 in 2022, she added.