FM, Piyush Goyal, presenting the Interim Budget 2019 in Parliament.
Finance Minister, Piyush Vedprakash Goyal, performed his duty to present the Government’s Interim Budget 2019, with caution and skill. He made a good attempt to balance growth potential without putting much pressure on near term economy which is on a ritardando pace since last year.
Budget provides some course for providing opportunity for all citizens reflecting a sense of awareness of people welfare. Infrastructure, job training, health care, FDI in select sectors, continuation of reforms, farmer’s support, newfangled tech moves, education, and pension benefits have been the elements of enhancements.
Recalling 2014 ( refer my post on July 10, 2014 – Budget 2014 – ‘Coup d’ essai for the Government ‘ ) : The government in its maiden budget in 2014 promised to move towards a “digital India” ; to develop 100 smart cities with modern transportation and communication (allotted Rs 7060 crores) ; Power for every household by 2019 ; Total sanitation for all by 2019 ; permission for e:commerce sales in retail ; e-visas in 9 airports ; “National Rural Internet Services ” development (allotted Rs 500 crores) ; increased indigenous production of hardware and software ; Safe drinking water program ( allotted Rs 6500 crores) ; provision of village roads (allotted Rs 3600 codes ); encouraging start-up entrepreneurs (allotted Rs 4000 crores); 10 year tax holiday for power projects; and Rural broadband connectivity (allotted Rs 3600 crores).
With the nation’s safety and security as its priority the government allotted during that year Rs 2.29 lakh crores for the Defence Sector. It increased the capital outlay by Rs 5000 crores for modernisation of Armed Forces ; increased FDI in defence sector from 26% to 49% ; increased allocation for modernisation of State Police Forces ; and for safety of women in all cities (Rs 1500 crores) ; and for good and effective governance (allotted Rs 100 crores).
Everybody looked forward to to the above proposals not just with admiration but also with big ‘hope’ in the new administration. A major part of these are about to be realised according to the government with some, specially, the electricity to all, sanitation, cooking gas availability, rural development, and general welfare having achieved more than 95%. However, it is for the individual citizen to make his/her own subjective assessment of the progress made or otherwise of these in nearly 5 years.
Promise of 2019 : The FM presented a bright picture of the scenario the government unveiled in the last 5 years vis-a-vis the other governments in any period, and the transformation accomplished in most sectors of the economy, specially, in health, banking, rural, realty, and information tech. Budget provides for increased spending and benefits for many sections of the society clearly illustrating the Government’s key focus and assumptions about what it can do.
Claiming that we are moving towards a “New India” by 2022 when we will celebrate 75 years of Free India, he announced some key initiatives for the benefit of the citizens.
Notable among them are :. (a) PM Kisan Yojana , with an outlay of Rs 75000 crores – Rs 20000 crores in the current year itself – benefiting 12 crore farmers ( transferring cash of Rs 6000 each in three instalments directly in their bank accounts ) according to FM enabling them to earn a respectable and dignified living ; (b) Establishing a Rashtriya Kamadhenu Ayog to enhance the productivity of cows ; (c) Establishing a separate department to boost fisheries sectors benefiting those pursuing animal husbandry and fishery ; (d) Increasing the allocation for MNREGA to Rs 60000 crores ; (e) PM Pension Yojana benefiting 10 crores of workers in unorganised sector with a pension of Rs 3000 after 60 years of age (Rs 500 crores allotted for this now) ; (f) PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana imparting training skills to the youth ;
” Motherland Bharat cares for its People ” has been reinforced with an allocation of Rs 3 lakh crores for the Defence Sector in 2019 budget.
Little noticed by many, but the MOST IMPORTANT frontier of new technology – the field of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ – is given a fillip by creation of National Centre for AI as a hub with all departments of AI plus development of a new National AI Portal.
Most welcome feature of the budget lies in the raising of the Income Tax Limit for tax payers from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh/ annum, along with the raise in standard deductions from Rs 40000 to Rs 50000. TDS to be increased from Rs 10000 to Rs 40000 ; and rebate on rent to be increased from Rs 180000 to Rs 240000. FM cut boon whids to nearly 3 crore individuals in doing this.
Final Impressions/Conclusion :
For an interim budget it may be quite exhaustive, – but sound, impressive, and contributing to the aspirations of the common people in circumstances direly needed.
Tax slows growth. It is like driving the car with brakes on. Hence, not much on this subject.
If you slice popular programs, you will be cut out from the next election. Hence some compulsions.
With clear foresight and a vivid conceptualization of future needs, FM has drawn up his proposals and programs proficiently in terms of short term and long term actions including the evolving higher order innovations like AI and man in space by 2019-2022.
In essence, the budget delivered by the FM in confident tone and words, is on the reform path – putting all programs for reforms fostering individual prosperity and strengthening civil society. However, consumption oriented give aways with this budget have made the challenges to the incoming government in May/June 2019, be it BJP or Congress or any third front, formidable.
Merits and demerits aside, neither the government could have been excused for making a near populist budget nor the opposition for their criticisms against it. Each of them, in their consideration did the role well to suit their agenda.
” Dieu avec nous “
Friday, February 1, 2019 – 3.19 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit. : ” Spending less is the essence of a balanced budget “