‘Budget proposes and postpones’ | india | Hindustan Times
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‘Budget proposes and postpones’

The war cry of the UPA government is inclusive growth. But there must be growth in order for it to be inclusive. Expectations were running wild about this budget. The Economic Survey had led us to believe that this budget will unleash the long shackled economic reforms, writes Yashwant Sinha.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2009 00:05 IST
Yashwant Sinha

The war cry of the UPA government is inclusive growth. But there must be growth in order for it to be inclusive.

Expectations were running wild about this budget. The Economic Survey had led us to believe that this budget will unleash the long shackled economic reforms.

Unfortunately, it has not. The fiscal deficit, hydro-carbons, disinvestment of PSUs, rationalisation of subsidies, thrust on infrastructure, Foreign Direct Investment liberalisation, financial sectors reform, tax simplification, and institutional reform have all been either ignored or postponed. The only bright spots are abolition of the Fringe Benefit Tax, the Commodity Transaction Tax, and the determination to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 2010.

We need to abolish hundreds of central and centrally sponsored schemes that the government runs and replace them by not more than 10 central schemes in these areas of priority. The Finance Minister has described the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana as “one of the most successful programmes under Bharat Nirman.” PMGSY, which I started in 2000, is a model which should be followed in the NREGS which in many states is nothing but a bucket without a bottom.

Almost all our welfare programmes like old age pension, Indira Awas, Antyodaya and Annapoorna Yojanas etc. are for people living below the poverty line. How are these people to be identified? The Unique Identification card for all Indians is a good idea but who will identify the status of the cardholder?

This is a budget which proposes and then postpones. No wonder, then, that the analysts and the stock markets have trashed it.

(The writer has formerly served as finance minister and foreign minister under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee)