The Budget 2019 makes us look askance at a government which has been voted in for the second time with an even bigger mandate. The presentation, instead, was of a hesitant coalition government. There was no over-arching theme for Modi 2.0 nor was there a delineation of persisting core concerns of the economy. A virtue had been made of modesty. At the least, long-running problems of indifferent growth and fresh job creation ought to have had mention. Perhaps, the government has given up on both.
Consumption is no longer fuelled by the lower income segment which is losing its purchasing power. The middle one keeps away from white goods due to uncertainties about the future and the upper strata is awaiting better times. Spending does not create wealth, production does.
Here was an opportunity to set direction towards these by promoting a healthy pool of savings to add wealth and jobs. An astute mix in policy approach that channels funds to the lower strata, enables the next to save and calibrates tax incentives for the job-creating capital is important. Tax sops for an ailing housing sector may help reduce inventory but not scale up accretion of jobs. The Budget was one of listing administrative orders for ease of compliance and was nowhere near laying out a long-range vision or even a contemporary theme.
R Narayanan, Navi Mumbai
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