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Volume IconWhat should you expect from the Budget session?

Budget session 2022 of the Parliament beginning today will decide the future course on the Indian economy. It will start with tabling of the Economic Survey that serves as precursor to the Budget

Budget 2021, Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Ministry

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam is set to present the paperless Union Budget for the financial year 2022-23 at 11am tomorrow. This will be her third Budget since taking over as India’s first full-time female Finance Minister in May 2019.

And today at 12pm, the Economic Survey 2022 will be tabled in Parliament. 

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The Survey acts as an annual report card of the economy and also contains suggestions to the government on policy matters. It is traditionally prepared by the Chief Economic Adviser. 

This year however, in the absence of a chief economic adviser, the principal economic advisor and other officials are preparing the survey.

Similarly, in 2014, the Economic Survey was prepared by senior economic advisor Ila Patnaik and not by chief economic advisor who is usually the architect of the survey.

Meanwhile, the government on Saturday announced Dr V Anantha Nageswaran as the new chief economic adviser of the country. The post had fallen vacant after Krishnamurthy Subramanian returned to academia after completing his three-year term on December 6 last year.

The last three Economic Survey reports prepared under the guidance of Subramanian were way off the mark in predicting growth numbers.

Off late, making GDP projections has become tricky. The pandemic has further complicated it. Last year’s Economic Survey projected the growth rate of 11% for the current financial year. The first advance estimates put it at 9.2%.

In FY20, the economy contracted by 7.3% while the survey had projected a 6-6.5% growth.

A business daily -- while citing officials -- claimed that the Economic Survey could forecast the real economic growth for fiscal 2023 to be lower than the 9.2% estimated for the current financial year.

Meanwhile, the Budget session starting today with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind, will be conducted in two phases. The first part will go on till February 11. And after over a month in recess, the session will resume on March 14. It will conclude on April 8.

Just-concluded Winter Session of Parliament was a complete washout when it comes to economic bills. The government didn’t table key bills including the one on privatisation of two public sector banks and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.

And experts believe that the government may not table them in the first half of the Budget session due to the same challenge it had faced earlier -- the elections in five states. Despite the sale of Air India, the government looks all set to miss its disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 trillion for FY22.

Apart from the privatisation, the implementation of the labour codes and proposed reforms in the power sector are also lined up.

Another crucial bill hanging fire is Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, which experts believe is unlikely to be tabled in this session too.

Meanwhile, apart from the employment-generating measures, the government’s fund allotment for the country's healthcare sector will also be keenly watched. Last year, the government had allocated just 1.8% of the GDP to health.

Opposition Congress on Friday said that it will work closely with like-minded parties during the Budget session and jointly raise matters of public importance, including farmers’ issues and border dispute with China.

Last year, the Budget session was cut short by 14 days in the wake of assembly elections in several states. This year too five states - Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- are going to polls between February 10 to march 7.

With the pandemic affecting low income segments the most, near-term measures to support incomes and boost household consumption demand are expected from the budget. We may also see some populist measures as polls are in progress.

The government is also expected to take steps to generate employment at a time when India’s already low rate of workforce participation is falling.

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First Published: Jan 31 2022 | 8:15 AM IST

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