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This refers to the special news coverage on the Union Budget (February 2). Given the heavy usage of economic jargon and verbose construction of sentences, the Union Budget usually elicits an unenthusiastic reaction from the masses. Political parties, therefore, feel obliged to respond tepidly and criticise this sacred document in every way possible. That India stands out among the fastest growing economies of the world despite tumultuous international developments and radical domestic policy actions, shows that her macroeconomic stability continues to be the foundation of her economic success.
The government’s proposed initiatives such as creating an institutional mechanism to develop appropriate policies and practices for price and demand forecast, the use of futures and options market, re-structuring of National Bamboo Mission etc are welcome to resurrect India’s ailing agricultural sector. The provision of electricity to rural households under the Saubhagya scheme and the setting up of new milestones for development of rural infrastructure are essential reforms in enhancing livelihood opportunities. Further, the government must be lauded for recognising the importance of the education sector by proposing to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions.
The resolve to strengthen the legal framework and develop a robust digital payment infrastructure in the country is a reiteration of the government’s commitment to making a transition to a cashless economy. The government could have heightened the spirit of imaandari ka utsav by introducing direct tax reforms for salaried taxpayers. There was no mention in the Budget document of any concrete employment generation programme to harness India’s demographic dividend. The finance minister’s alliterative juxtaposition of hawai chappal and hawai yatra to signify affordable air travel was also in poor taste. On the whole, given the political obligations of the government in a country going for elections next year, the finance minister should be credited for not indulging in any ill-advised fiscal adventurism and presenting a balanced Budget to the nation.
Shreyans Jain, New Delhi
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