April- 2012 Issue of Yojana Focusses on “Budget 2012-13”
• Addressing Growth Revival and Improving Delivery Systems-
Overall, Mr. Mukherjee,s budget for 2012-13 may signal that the worst may be left behind for new beginnings in reform and investment-led growth . However, the finance Minister should have presented a coherent framework of measures to transform the investment climate and help the economy to grow to its potential in the coming year or two. A largely piecemeal sectoral approach rather than a broader picture of directions for the economy has not helped to lift the prevailing sense of uncertainty, and is rather suggestive of a plod till 2014.
• Challenges and Opportunities-
This budget has tried to address concerns of fiscal consolidation in a difficult macroeconomic environment. However, the path of consolidation relies heavily on compression of expenditures, which may not materialise. As mentioned, some of the positive features of this budget are introduction of negative list for service taxation, introduction of national manufacturing policy, step towards financial inclusion through Swabhimaan campaign and proposal to strengthen regional rural banks. It would be interesting to see how some of these critically important measures are implemented without being chocked under the compulsion of coalition politics.
• Taxation Proposals-
In the ultimate analysis, while Corporate India might say an opportunity lost to kick-start the economy in limbo to fresh pastures, the Finance Minister has, to use his own words, provided an opportunity to rethink, reassess and make way for new ideas and policies. The budget was approached in this spirit. The Finance Minister has as he said tried to create an enabling atmosphere for corporates, farmers, entrepreneurs and workers to take initiatives for robust growth with the intention of reaching benefits to all sections.
• Agriculture and the Budget-
Mr. Mukherjee also announced that the recommendations of the task force headed by Mr Nandan Nilekani on the use of information technology (IT) for direct transfer of fertiliser subsidy have been accepted. Consequently, a mobile-based fertiliser management system (FMS) is being put in place to track the movement of fertilisers and the subsidies. This systems would be rolled out throughout the country during 2012 itself. Following that, the process of direct transfer of subsidy first to the retailers and then to the consumers would be launched in phase.
• Energy Access and Gender Inclusion in Energy Planning-
Jyoti Parikh/ Dinoj Kumar Upadhyaya/ Rajiv Ratna Panda
There are also growing trends of investment and stakeholders in the renewable energy sector which needs to be complimented with social concerns too. This could also serve the purpose of government subsidy and renew the agenda for empowerment of the weaker sections of society for an inclusive growth and overall construction of equitable society. Engagement of women in energy projects at the grassroots level also help to bring the issues of environment degradation and energy efficiency to the fore and raise social awareness about them.
• Investing in the Social Sector-
Census Projections for 2011 put the total population of five to twenty-nine year olds at 57 crore. Projections are that in 2025, over 70 percent of the country’s population will be of working age. More often than not, Indian leaders refer to India’s growing population as “demographic dividend” which presents the country with challenge and an opportunity. In order to make good on this demographic dividend, there is a need for higher public spending in the social Sector, especially key areas of education, health and sanitation.
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