All izz well was the Finance Minister's overarching message in an interim budget that was essentially a patting-herself-and-the-government-on-the-back exercise ahead of elections.
To emphasise this message, she even promised to present a white paper on the mismanagement of finances till 2014. Nirmala Sitharaman also assured that she will be back with the full budget in July 2024, which she said she will lay the roadmap for Vikasit Bharat -- a goal the government hopes to achieve by 2047.
The fiscal deficit for the upcoming financial year will be 5.1%, she underlined, which the opposition's Manish Tiwari promptly latched on to emphasise the fact that we are looking at another year of high credit growth, something many consider undesirable.
There was no mention of the great jobs dilemma, but youth will be one of the pillars of the upcoming budget. So, we will have to wait and see if we can achieve the dream of growth with jobs in the coming years at least.
Here is how the budget happened:
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will, at 11 am, present the Modi 2.0 government's last Budget before the general elections, which is likely to contain a mix of measures for the economy and electorally significant segments like the youth, women, farmers and the poor
- Her sixth straight Budget will present a political document with a snapshot of the Modi government's triumphs over the last 10 years and pointers to how it wants to take the country forward
- The Budget she will present is technically a vote on account and popularly termed an interim Budget as it seeks Parliament's nod for a grant in advance to meet the central government's essential expenditure for the first four months of the new fiscal year that starts in April
- A vote on account seeks approvals for essential expenditure outlays until the polls, while the interim Budget broadly includes an assessment of the current state of the economy, current/capex expenditures, and receipts, as well as revised estimates of the current financial year and estimates for the year ahead
- The interim Budget presents an occasion for spectacle just weeks ahead of the Model Code of Conduct coming into force
- A new government elected after the April/May general elections will present the full Budget, likely in July
- Purpose of government spending: Improving quality of life
- Fairness with economic rationale as the main principle for allocation
- Public provision of services: Get guided by changes in cost of living
- Negotiation for resources is a legitimate instrument, but timing of public spending to election cycles is not
- Focus on provision of quality public service, and not the lazy substitutes
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In his customary interaction with the media before the Budget Session outside the Parliament building, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday expressed confidence in his third straight victory in the coming Lok Sabha polls and claimed that the full budget would be presented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government when it is formed after the Lok Sabha polls.
A judicious mix of economic reforms and social schemes will give the interim budget a respectable look.
At a time when levels of unemployment and inflation are ruling high, the government’s focus on the youth is reasonable
In order to help improve farmers’ income, the government may want to look at the latest technologies and new markets
Welfare schemes on housing, water and electricity look unavoidable
There is talk of providing relief on fuel prices and taxes
Industry group CII has requested that capital expenditure be increased by a fifth to Rs 12 lakh crore over last year’s allocation
CII has also asked the Centre to expand support to state capital expenditures in the form of interest-free, 50-year loans to the tune of about Rs 30,000 crore