Budget 2016-2017 – Dull, Drab and Listless

The union budget 2016-2017 presented by Arun Jaitley, the country’s finance minister on Monday was dull, drab and listless.

Post budget dull drab listless

The union budget 2016-2017 presented by Arun Jaitley, the country’s finance minister on Monday was dull, drab and listless. One need not be an economist to analyse the annual financial statement of the country. Let’s keep aside the claim by the minister that the fiscal deficit has been contained to 3.5 per cent of the GDP. This could be an ideal subject of discussion for professional  artistes of the 24X7 TV news channels and has no significance for more than 98 per cent of the population.

After sitting glued to the Lok Sabha TV channel which brought the budget presentation live to the drawing room without much cacophony by the crowd of anchor persons, one gets the feeling that it was a waste of time watching the budget presentation. The first impression is that there is no connect between the union finance minister and the Prime Minister over how to help the farmers in the country.

The last couple of days, the Prime Minister had been addressing farmers’ rallies all over India. His promise to the kisan brothers is that he would ensure that the farmers’ income would be doubled by 2022, the time when India celebrates the 75th anniversary of Indian independence. Has any roadmap been drawn by the finance minister  for taking India’s development to the next level of growth? “The answer is a big no and that makes this budget a listless one,” said Dr S Kalyanaraman, former banker with the Asian Development Bank.

Dr Kalyanaraman pointed out that Mr Arun Jaitley has announced that 28.5 lakh hectares of land would be brought under irrigation. “But Sir, how? How are you going to do that? Are you going to launch the project to Inter Link the major Indian Rivers? If so, you have to mention it in the budget. But the budget speech is silent about it. Moreover, agriculture being a State subject, how are you going to do it? There is no road map for implementing this scheme,” he pointed out. The most important part of the proposal is missing in fine print. Where the water will come from?

There seems to be a delink or disconnect between the union finance minister and the Prime Minister over this issue. No mention was made about the project to inter link the rivers in last year’s budget too, pointed out Dr Kalyanaraman.

While care has been taken not to hurt the elite and super rich in the country, the man in street, the aam aadmi would continue with his wailings. In the prelude to the union budget 2016-2017, we had raised the issue of Kaala Dhan stashed away in foreign countries. This was a favourite subject of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his election campaign. The finance minister as well as the Prime Minister is totally silent about the issue of Black Money and those who raise the issue are either being side-lined or kept away from the government.

It is not that the government could not do anything to bring back the Rs 3000 lakh crore stashed away in tax havens. Someone somewhere either in North Block or the South Block does not want the government to proceed further in this issue.

The promise made by the finance minister  that agricultural policy would be reorganised to double farmers’ income in five years sounds laughable. Sir, there is a report prepared and presented by ace agricultural scientist Prof M S Swaminathan in 2006 which is getting dusted in the libraries in the Prime Minister’ Office. He has suggested means and ways to lift the living standard of the farmers in the country. Please implement it.. You need not waste any time reorganising the policies.. The earlier you do it, the better. This is because we can bring down the number of farmers committing suicide in Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP and Telangana.. Are you listening, Mr Jaitley?

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Aashish is a technology & finance professional with many years of global experience in multiple roles.

He is a frequent contributor on Banking, Money, Investing, Technology and Education.

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Aashish Shetty
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