Have had many requests to post my comments on the Budget and so here are my views.
1. I call this Budget the Parliamentary version of the ‘Bharat Nirman’ advt that’s all over the media – high on ‘we did this and we did that’, but not surprisingly, silent on some of the REAL issues.
2. The Budget’s so-called deficit achievement prove only this – that the big achievement of the Finance Minister was to Dodge the bullet of a ratings downgrade.
3. The fiscal deficit target (fiscal deficit being the gap between government revenues and its expenditure) has only been met by postponing expenditure like defence, subsidy and using capital expenditure money to pay for regular bills. Plan expenditure (investment and capex) of the Government has also been cut – which will impact the GDP in future years (as Moody’s, the ratings agency has pointed out already). Not a good sign at all.
4. The budget has some alarming admissions that the economy was mismanaged . Point 6 of the budget the FM says “Going forward, I appeal to all Political parties to join me in the pledge that we shall not – we shall never – do anything that will affect the stability of the foundations of India’s economy” ! Given that he inherited a strong economy from the Vajpayee government in 2004 (by his own admission) who is he referring to ? Does he mean that economy was mismanaged in the last few years of UPA?
5. Then there’s that famous 10-point agenda in point 72 of his budget speech called “A vision for the future”! Ranging from Fiscal consolidation, manufacturing, Subsidies to deserving people, to Governance of our cities ! This is the most bizarre part of this budget speech ! Does he expect Indians to believe that these are new ideas? Vision? It took the Government 10 years to wake up to issues that were known? It’s almost like the budget speech was a speech being made in the first year of their Government ! The audacity of trying to pass of the failings of the Government as vision is very awe-inspiring !!
6. There was a reference to individualism by the Finance minister – referring obviously to Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal! To that I say this – we now need leaders who stand up and are responsible for their actions and for the country’s future! If that’s individualism – I say more power to it ! But individualism of the sort in some parties where there’s a concentration of power but no accountability isn’t acceptable!
7. In a nutshell – if you cut through the two pillars of the govt’s spin – a) Global meltdown/Crisis and b) Average growth being higher – here’s the reality !
– The economy that is being left behind by this Government at the end of 10 years is in serious crisis.
– The current low growth and high inflation will continue and will take real leadership and decisive policy action to get us out from!
– Vision and slogans will not be enough! In a nutshell, i don’t envy the future Finance Minister’s job!