A forward-looking Progressive budget

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Budget 2022 was indeed the economic budget of the nation for the first time since independence. For one the budget didn’t try to bring the prices of Hawai chappals, ACs, Fridge, Maggi, Pasta, and the likes. It concentrated on some needed policy measures and left the trivia to be left.  


However, it also failed to bring the media on its side. We are of the opinion that the Minister of IB must convene a meeting of the media before the budget and not later. It can issue the budget copy later but holding a meeting before its more important. Besides the left-leaning big national dailies, it’s the regional dailies that are more vulnerable.  For they fail to get and understand the big picture. Take Dainik Bhaskar published from Indore and elsewhere.  Its headlines were not the govt or the finance minister will like.  IT proclaimed with big headlines – “Apne Sirf Sapne- baki sab sarkar ka”. This made us shell shocked and also aware of how regional media changes public perceptions. 


We also liked the PM’s address to the nation through the BJP party organization platform. That was a masterstroke and we appreciate that. However, we would also like to request the PM to get associated with the organization more often. When we say the organization we mean the common karyakartas and not the big shots. 


Coming to the budget specifically the indigenous mandate to source components for defense projects is praiseworthy. However, there is some strictness needed here as we have seen that many do not follow such mandates. IN the past we have highlighted a case where a defense component was in the process of being procured from China at the height of the Galvan show while the indigenous manufacturer came to us for help. The company was Godrej which had a better product than the Chinese and also price but then that is how things go. Therefore while the budget announcement is praiseworthy nonetheless it needs more stringent clauses and supervision. 


The continuation and extension of schemes like PLI and push for Start-Ups do not need any further remarks. The government’s role in pushing the economy and encouraging the younger generation has been exemplary. 


Another key feature is the Digital currency to be issued by RBI. Also setting up digital centers across the country was also important. WE have said in our last post that there is still a large population that is untouched by Digital India. 
Allowing higher education in GIFT city is also an important step in bringing the country at par with global education and will increase competition. 

The regular fund allocation and INfra sector feature have now become a regular and signature delivery of MODI and the BJP government.  India will surely be transformed as far as roads and railways, airways and waterways are concerned. 
Allowing a 2 years period for Income tax changes should be helpful for many confused citizens and it’s a nice positive step. Recently a friend of mine got a call from the income tax office. The lady from the tax office brought some anomalies to our friend’s attention and talked for almost 30 mins to get it corrected in a very friendly manner. This was never heard of earlier. Modi govt has indeed improved the environment for the common man so far as taxes are concerned. But we hear that the business community is still not pleased with tax officers and the govt had to be attentive here. Some tax rebates could have helped the government in the upcoming elections. Is it a missed opportunity, time will tell? 


Clarity on Cryptocurrency was also good as this is one area that is going to see a lot of traction going forward. 
There are many other finer points that we may not be able to cover here. 


The Misses: 

We would have liked the government to do more on the energy sector. The way energy prices are climbing and also the risk of global conflicts are more real than just war games, the government could have done more in this sector. Tiny steps will not be sufficient. The government has talked about solar energy and EVs but when u are dependent on imports to the levels of 65%, there is much more tyo be done. Seaweeds and other innovative resources need to be given thrust and it all has to be a war footing. 


AICTE is not the agency to be mentioned in the budget. There has to be some higher thinking in this regard. They just don’t have the vision to take education or any other sector at international levels. 
India needs more rare earth and base minerals. for EV and other strategic purposes. Some incentives were required in this direction. Also companies in this field like Hindustan copper, Vedanta and others were in dire need of encouragement. 


Incentives to farmers were missing and we don’t know why despite a 2-year farmer protest that almost shook the foundation of the nation. 


There was not much follow up on the science and technology sector and we again don’t the reason. In past budgets, this sector has received some attention with new thinking but it was missing this time. IN fact the Ministry of Science and Technology has been allocated Rs 14,217 crore in the Union Budget 2022-23, a 3.9 percent decrease from last fiscal. This is simply ridiculous when the GST receipts are rising and technology is the answer going forward to remain in the race on all fronts. IN fact, the govt will do well to be more sensitive to this area. We shall soon write a post on the same. 

Conclusion: 

The government has done well overall and has made some significant long-term policy measures. However, when we need things on a very large canvas we just fall short on many fronts. Otherwise, we congratulate the government on many fronts and small initiatives. 

Dr Asheesh Shah

Samanvaya

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