I feel this is a positive budget, focusing on much needed social development issue. It is heartening to see that a ‘monitoring and accounting’ system is being put in place, scheme-wise and state-wise.
So far, although the quantum of money allocated towards social development has been extensive, it is perceived that for every one rupee spent, the leakage is about 85 per cent. Hence the Finance Minister’s emphasis on ‘outlay versus outcome’ and ‘quality versus quantity’ is music to my ears.
The budget’s direction on education and health is certainly welcome, since they are the building blocks for any progressive society. It is also good to see that there is a focus on educating the girl child and a 24 per cent increase in allocation towards woman and child development.
A subject close to my heart is skill building. In India, demography can yield a huge dividend if we channelise our efforts in the right direction. A world-class skill development programme, intended to be introduced, which hopefully will also cater to vocational training, is certainly an excellent idea.
There are a vast number of ‘people without jobs and jobs without people’ and therefore initiating a focused skill development programme, is to my mind, the answer to inclusive growth. Although I am glad to hear that India is taking the impact of climate change seriously, I would have expected the budget to give a significant momentum to this urgent reality.
As it is in our own self-interest, I look forward to the emerging work in clean technologies, energy efficiency, renewables, waste to energy and moving towards a greener economy.
The budget’s focus on consumption led growth over investment led growth will help boost the economy further. Lowering of excise duties and rationalising income tax slabs will certainly improve demand and encourage a derived demand on industry. The budget has not shown enough impetus for infrastructure growth – especially power, ports and roads.
Although the right steps are being taken like coal block allocation, appointing a regulator and a T&D fund to be allocated, the pace is not encouraging.
(Meher Pudumjee is the Chairperson, Thermax Ltd)