New Delhi: Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday held her fifth pre-Budget consultation meeting with the stakeholders from social sector groups here today.

Sitharaman would be presenting the Union Budget on July 5.

In her opening remarks, the Minister said that public investment in social infrastructure, like education, health and other services is a key determinant of quality of life of the people.

The main areas of discussion included issues relating to health, education, social protection, pensions and human development.

Others present at the meeting were Finance Secretary Subhash C Garg, Expenditure Secretary Girish Chandra Murmu and Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey.

Meanwhile, the stakeholders of social sector came up with an array of suggestions to focus on education and hygiene particularly for rural women, audit of cities to identify security gaps to strengthen women safety, increased budgetary allocation towards nutrition of infants and pregnant mothers, full operationalization of one-stop centres for women in all districts and expansion of healthcare infrastructure.

Among those representing the social sector were National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Chairman Arvind Lal and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Priyanka Kanoongo.

The Minister has been holding a series of pre-Budget consultations with various stakeholders. She held one with representatives of farm bodies and agricultural experts on June 11. She has also met members of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) for their views on the state of the economy and the way forward. North Block, which houses the Finance Ministry, has been ‘quarantined’ or out of bounds for visitors and media from this Monday.

Yesterday, she held a meeting with bankers and capital market representatives.

In this budget, Sitharaman will have to address slowing economy, financial sector troubles like rising non-performing assets (NPAs) and liquidity crisis in Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), job creation and private investments.