Boom Boom Budget
This is for the first time that after Independence, the much-awaited Budget is presented and that really matches to the international standard. Now India is creating identity in every aspect of governance in a unique way. And the lone opposition is only giving frustrating remarks on the Budget that the Narendra Modi Government has pronounced. The Budget papers are full of solutions for the farmers, the poor, infrastructure development, focussed agenda for rural development and upliftment of the downtrodden. Health and education also got top priority with a growth-oriented agenda. It is becoming difficult for the Congress to attack the ruling bench as the Budget is more focussed on the upliftment of the poor. It seems the Modi government has snatched the issues to raise questions from the Congress and thereby the opposition is only shedding the crocodile tears. In fact, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely scripted a new chapter, given the government brought in effect demonetisation three months ago. Against this backdrop, it was mandatory on FM’s part to allay apprehensions of the common man and this he did in this Budget. Proposals pertaining to the personal income tax in the Budget provide us reasons for being inspired. Measures such as the existing rate of tax for individuals with income between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh being lowered to 5 per cent from 10 per cent, a 10 per cent surcharge on individual income between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore, no scrutiny by the government for persons filing IT returns for the first time and a single page submission for those with an annual income of Rs 5 lakh are inspiring. Massive allocation for infrastructure is heartening but whether the benefits will effectively reach the targeted section is to be seen. Relief for small and medium-scale industries could trigger growth and employment. It is pleasing to note that some endeavours have been made to tackle dubious political donations. The step to bring housing within the reach of more people is welcome. The introduction of a Smart Aadhaar card facility with health details of senior citizens is bound to be hailed. I felt that cash funding up to Rs. 2000 is aimed at the most corrupt politicians, who have broken all records of shamelessly demanding/accepting money from all quarters of society. Hence, it cannot be gainsaid that it is a responsible Budget by a responsible government, for whom India comes first, unlike the Congress government, who only knows how to divide and rule people and spend money only on minorities for votes. Arun Jaitely seems to have done some hard thinking and worked well within the framework. Any budgetary expedition has to face hurdles like monsoon, behaviour of other economies and so on. He has to tiptoe hard-line by not giving away to short-term temptations. Therefore, it is apt to say that the Budget shows conviction of the government to help the poor and the needy. The Railway Budget is really good as we can expect better travel experiences and cleaner and tidier stations too.
Keeping in view the Election Commission’s and Supreme Court’s advices on account of election in five states, Arun Jaitely has presented a very optimistic budget. The opposition is dumbstruck. He has lured the masses yet without a finger from any one of breaking the rules. Let us see how it will convert in BJP’s win particularly in UP, where election happens to be caste based. The best thing about the Budget is that it continues with the path of infrastructure development while augmenting the revenues through widening of tax base. A very well thought-off Budget, focusing on short-term alleviation of pain for stressed out lower income groups and at same time keeping focus on long-term infrastructure improvement. Physical and social infra needs massive investment to improve the overall productivity and efficiency in domestic economy and make it competitive against other nations. This is what is required to take India to a totally different orbit–financially and militarily–and significantly improve the quality of life for the citizens. The government’s agenda to transform the quality of governance, energise various sections of society and cleanse the country from the evils of corruption, black money and non-transparent will bear fruits for the country. It is worth mentioning here that the government deserves kudos for its endeavours in strengthening the legal framework to facilitate resolution of bank NPAs and developing a robust digital payment infrastructure in the country. Arun Jaitely should be lauded for not indulging in any ill-advised fiscal adventurism at a time when the world economy is facing considerable uncertainty. It is a fact that no Budget can please all people and there will always be critics. There were also constraints on the government not to present any populist schemes for the poll-bound states.