The Common Man’s Budget

The Common Man’s Budget

So, the Finance Minister has started his consultations with the Industrialists, the Trade Unions, the Regulators and everyone who has a reason to spell out their expectation from the Policies of the Government based on which the Budget for the year 2014-15 would be crafted by the Ministry.

budgetThe budget would be a measure of the Government’s direction to the Economy and the welfare of the people. The nameless millions voted the Nationalist Government to an unprecedented Majority in the Parliament. The millions who have voted for ‘their own government’ that would not work in the same old way that previous government worked.

Before the budget, we would expect to see a clear statement of the Finance Minister probably in the form of a White Paper on the Current and Future State of Economy along with a Policy Roadmap taking into consideration the following among others:

1. Apart from doing the usual consultations with the traditional stakeholders of the economy, this time around we expect the Finance Minister to seek the views of the public in general for the budget. However illogical it may appear to the Minister, Ministry and the privileged lot who are being consulted, it is ultimately the aspirations of the one and a quarter billion people that would need to be addressed by the Budget.
The interested parties would definitely give their inputs that would help them advance their own interests. The Manufacturers, the Exporters, the Importers, the Service Providers would have their quota of demands to maximise profits which eventually do not end up in passing of the benefits to the common mass of people. We have seen that umpteen number of times in the past.
The Finance Minister needs to tell us what he is planning for ensuring inclusive growth of the Economy going above the inputs of the consultations held

2. The common problems being faced by the common mass need to be addressed by steps that would ensure an uninhibited access to National Resources at an affordable effort and cost. Deficit and Surpluses are the Statisticians’ Luxury and the Economists’ Pleasure. For the common man these phrases do not bring a smile nor do they feed the hungry.
The Finance Minister needs to tell us how he plans to ensure this uninhibited access.

3. What is needed for the Indian Economy is much more than a statement of Revenue and Expenditure Projection. It is also much different from the traditional subsidization and de-subsidization that would be a subject of discussion and the arm-chair studio pundits would disgorge venom or praise based on their leanings. Ironically, we can see the speculative calls for investing in Fertilizer as some informed sources believe that the government is going to announce huge subsidies in this segment. If that is the case, how is this budget going to be different from any other that we have seen in the past 65 years? A basic and honest view of the ailments of the monetary, taxation and overall economic system would be needed.

4. Trying to put together a budget without clearly articulating the policy and direction of the government would be a wasteful exercise further aggravating the ailing system. Spelling out a budget before spelling out the policy would be like putting the cart before the horse. It should not a be a reactive exercise to the age-old system of an Economic Survey that would only be trumpeting the invincible logic of subsidization.

5. The Nation needs to depart from the legacy practices. It needs to know what the government thinks about Currency Denominations, Demonetization, Taxation , Lowering the Barriers to Entrepreneurship, Incentivising Quality and Smart Business Enablement and Freedom from License Raj.

6. Earlier in the year, prior to Election, there was a view that some structural changes in taxation system coupled with capping of the highest denomination in the system could bring about an ideal environment for the Nation to grow in a positive direction. This is a well-researched view. However, our Current Finance Minister was the one to have shot it down without caring to provide any reasoning for such a rejection of the Theory.

7. The Nation is grappling with the problems of domestic black money which cannot be handled unless it becomes difficult to deal in cash. To make it difficult to deal in cash, the banking coverage must be universal and the highest denomination notes must be small. What could be the reason for avoiding to even discuss these issues in public? Perhaps, these are issues that need to be discussed with right earnest, now and not later.

It is true that the Finance Minister faces a huge challenge in taking care of the economy. But the challenge he faces cannot be solved by relying on the age old methods that have definitely failed to bring any solace to the public and the economy.

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Shashank Chowdhury

Shashank Chowdhury is a Banking Professional having spent 34 years in Development of Systems for Banking with special focus on inclusive banking in the remote Rural Areas.

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One comment

  • The author’s concern is very valid. India has great hope from Modi’s Sarkar. It has voted for it & certainly needs a break from previous Sarkar’s mis-budgeted mis-deeds.