Budget 2019 a refreshing document in approach, political in intent

As a vision document and as a statement of intent and purpose backed by finance, Budget 2019-20 must be judged on larger parameters.

Budget 2019 a refreshing document in approach, political in intent
Budget 2019 a refreshing document in approach, political in intent

There is always something that can be found wanting in a Budget, and that something can surely be found in Sitharaman’s maiden Budget if one is determined to discover it

For decades, most analysts agreed on at least one aspect of the Union Budget: That, in the end, the document is a political message. Union Minister for Finance Nirmala Sitharaman did nothing to dispel the notion in her maiden Budget on July 5; indeed, she reiterated the fact through her speech. For instance, she did not read out the allocations made out to various ministries and programmes, saying that they were available in the Budget documents. This was a departure from the usual Budget speeches where the Finance Minister spend a good portion of the address to announcing the allocations — they went up for some and down for others. Those who have been critical of this departure from the trend ought to realise that a Union Budget is essentially a document of intent and purpose and is a roadmap of the government, and not a profit and loss statement.

The political aspect is evident elsewhere too. The Finance Minister not only spoke with pride of the various programmes the Modi government had initiated but also expanded their scope. These are, incidentally, programmes that helped the Bharatiya Janata Party return to power with a bigger mandate than it got in 2014. Sitharaman added some more tasks to the Clean India programme — Swacch Bharat; she has promised more for rural roads, highways, port connectivity, rural electrification. The social sector programmes, which fetched the party rich dividends, were given the pride of place. She did not forget to underline the assurance of piped water for all households by 2024— shortage of water is a big problem facing the country today, and the scarcity of drinking water has hit rural India the most.

These critics, in other words, hoped that the Finance Minister would accept the grim situation on record. But the fact is that the government is already working to tackle drought conditions and farmer distress.

The Modi government had received huge support from the poor after it had managed to cover the last few years, course-corrected its image of being pro-rich. It ensures that the pro-poor thrust it has managed to project in the last few years sustained. The Finance Minister has proposed to levy cess on annual incomes of above three crore rupees (three per cent) and above five crore rupees (seven per cent). She has not succumbed to pressure that corporate India required tax concessions. Instead, she has invited their participation in various massive programmes through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

Given that this is the first Budget of the new government, which has five years to go, dramatic fireworks in the areas of agriculture, jobs etc have been postponed for now — though it cannot be for long. Governments generally reserve those announcements for the third or fourth year of their term, in order to gain the maximum, politically. But the Finance Minister realised that kickstarting the economy in a way that will help achieve the government’s target of India being a five trillion dollar economy in the next few years, cannot wait. Therefore, a massive push to infrastructure and the rail sector has been announced. The Finance Minister has proposed leasing and financing of aircraft. While she did not set out a structured disinvestment plan of sick Public Sector Units, she did mention the disinvestment of the ailing Air India.

One of the most welcome announcements is for the promotion of electric vehicles, where the government has proposed to make available a string of concessions for buyers and manufacturers of electric vehicles. This should go a long way in tackling pollution, again an area that has become a major crisis millions of Indians face, more so in urban India. There are a number of other measures announced that seek to fortify the government’s image of being pro-poor as well as pro-corporate.

There is criticism that the Budget did not make mention of farmer distress, drought conditions across large parts of the country, and employment-generation measures. These critics, in other words, hoped that the Finance Minister would accept the grim situation on record. But the fact is that the government is already working to tackle drought conditions and farmer distress. Critics can always take the regime to task in case the government seems to be failing in that task. On job creation, the additional emphasis on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and small and Medium Enterprise (SME), which together form the latest bloc for employment-generation, is a measure that the government hopes will click.

There is always something that can be found wanting in a Budget, and that something can surely be found in Sitharaman’s maiden Budget if one is determined to discover it. Nonetheless, as a vision document and as a statement of intent and purpose backed by finance, Budget 2019-20 must be judged on larger parameters.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Rajesh Singh

Rajesh Singh is a Delhi-based senior political commentator and public affairs analyst
Rajesh Singh

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5 COMMENTS

  1. As a Mega Policy statement, THE INTRODUCTION OF KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER (KYC) NORMS I BELIEVE PARTICIPATORY NOTES IN COMMODITY FUTURES & OPTIONS WILL PREVENT MONEY LAUNDERING. THE ACTUAL MANUFACTURERS CAN INDULGE FOR PROCURING RAW MATERIALS CHEAP USING COMMODITY F&O. THE ELECTRONIC MODE MUST BE MADE TO AVOID UNDER INVOICING EXPORTS & OVER INVOICING IMPORTS AND THIS MUST BE THROWN OPEN TO BUYERS & SUPPLIERS WITHIN OUR COUNTRY AND ALL THE AUTHORITIES INVOLVED IN CLEARING SUCH EXPORTS & IMPORTS TRADE MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THIS TYPE OF SALES.
    I THINK IT IS A GREAT STEP IF VIEWED TO BE AS IN MY VIEW ABOVE.
    START UP T V MUST START QUICKLY SO THAT INNOVATORS ARE ABLE TO FIND INCUBATORS.
    K.S.Nagarajan,
    Chennai.

  2. Yes, as said, every budget has satisfaction & desperation. Here Ms Nirmala Seetharaman Ji has placed an excellent budget that no earlier finance minister has ever placed. For example Itally Chechis Puppet repealed MRTP Act and brought in Competition Law which killed every Small businesses like Goli Soda loosing market to Coco Cola, village chocklate Kamarkat had to close down due to half nude Ads for Cadbury & Coco Cola like MNC & individual tailors had to close down shops to be jailed in Group tailoring making Branded garments to cater to vanity market.
    I am afraid if any universities are committed to enhance Atal Mission Yojana to generate large scale employment.
    I am a Prospective Innovator and I am struggling to find one INCUBATOR. Yes I can deliver my Innovation if I had not been a Whistle Blower against corrupt in the previous UPA Government & if Judiciary could uphold EITHER STATE POLICY OR ITS OWN STATED POLICY WITHOUT FALLING VICTIM TO UNETHICAL, UNFAIR RESPONDENT.
    I AM 70+ YEARS AGED HANDS ON RETIRED DIPLOMA ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, PRESENTLY A PROSPECTIVE INNOVATOR OF A HUMAN POWERED MACHINE THAT CAN GENERATE HUGE GREEN ELECTRIC POWER THAT CAN MAKE ALL OUR JAILS MEGA POWER PLANTS GENERATING SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF MEGA WATT POWER AND ADJACENT EVERY PETROL FILLING STATIONS ALL ALONG THE ROADS CAN BECOME MICRO POWER PLANTS FOR PROMOTING “E” TRANSPORT.
    ALL I NEED RAPID PROTOTYPING OF MY MACHINE THAT IS AVAILABLE WITH IIT MADRAS, ENGINEERING DESIGN LAB, FOR JUST A FEW DAYS AND IN ANOTHER ONE OR TWO MONTHS I WILL BE ABLE TO DELIVER THE MACHINE.
    I AM THE FOUNDER TRUSTEE OF “TAD DVAM ASI TRUST” (REGD) FOR THE REGISTERED OBJECTIVES TO ERADICATE CORRUPTION, BLACK MONEY, ALL ILLICIT CROSS BORDER BUSINESSES AND WITH THE PROCEEDS OF MY INNOVATION TO BE DEDICATED TO SPREAD APPLIED SCIENCE EDUCATION CULTURE SO THAT THERE ARE NO SCHOOL DROPOUT NOR UNEMPLOYABLE PROFESSIONALS.
    BHARAT NEEDS TO DO THIS URGENTLY TO LEAVE A CIVILIZED WORLD.
    K.S.Nagarajan,
    Chennai.
    Email: nagarajanks27@yahoo.co.in

  3. Didi did not feel it is worth to comment on the Mod 2.0 budget
    Mayawati could not understand what this budget is all about for it had nothing for dalits
    Rabri Devi echoed that there is nothing in the budget
    Akhilesh Singh inspite of his Harvard University education could not understand what is BJP making noise on the budget
    India could not make one model village or town or city till date.
    I am also equally inspired to join above experts to say that this budget is nothing & India is going to stone age.

  4. Rajesh Ji you take some time off. Your and all Pidi journos, Paid media hearts are heavy with grief with Italian pappu resignation and delay in on set of Vatican Raj, which may never come as Hindus slowly, very slowly but surely are waking up to Kshstra Dharma. Let us remember that Great Ghenghis, Kublai Khan were Nath Panthis and Buddhists combination, who almost destroyed the Barbaric savages of Kaliyug, the Rakshashas of Xtianity and Islamic Hordes. Those who hid in India saving their filthy asses from that great warrior, now plan the destruction of East

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