No More Tar­get Prac­tice, the Real Shoot ’em Up Has Be­gun

A path­break­ing Bud­get that qui­etly takes rad­i­cal steps to a gi­ant leap into In­dia’s fu­ture. There is now no go­ing back

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Com­ing af­ter a ma­jor path­break­ing move like the de­mon­eti­sa­tion ini­tia­tive, fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley did a cred­i­ble job of giving a bal­anced Bud­get with a fo­cus on in­clu­sive growth. Al­lo­ca­tions to ru­ral and agri­cul­ture are com­mend­able. De­spite in­creased spend­ing by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, both fis­cal and rev­enue deficits have been main­tained. Fis­cal re­forms, en­hanced fo­cus on hous­ing and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, en­cour­age­ment to mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs), higher agri­cul­tural credit al­lo­ca­tion to farm­ers, steps to­wards trans­parency in elec­toral fund­ing and in­cen­tives for pro­mot­ing dig­i­tal econ­omy are wel­come mea­sures. I am happy that many of the steps rec­om­mended in the in­terim re­port sub­mit­ted by me to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, as the con­vener of Com­mit­tee of Chief Min­is­ters and of­fi­cials to ex­am­ine and pro­mote the use of dig­i­tal pay­ment sys­tems across the coun­try, have been ac­cepted and in­cor­po­rated in the Bud­get. I ap­pre­ci­ate the one-time ex­emp­tion from cap­i­tal gains tax to the farm­ers who have pooled their land for the cre­ation of the Andhra Pradesh cap­i­tal Amar­a­vati. Sharp in­crease in the al­lo­ca­tion of funds to MGNREGA will help us un­der­take more in­clu­sive ru­ral de­vel­op­ment works in a con­ver­gent man­ner. In­crease in the cor­pus of the long-term ir­ri­ga­tion fund to 40,000 crore in the Na­tional Bank for Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment (Nabard) will help in brisk ex­e­cu­tion of the Polavaram project. Mea­sures like the ex­emp­tion of for­eign port­fo­lio in­vestors Cat­e­gories 1 and 2 from the pro­vi­sion of in­di­rect trans­fer and in­crease in the pre­sump­tive in­come scheme from 1 crore to 2 crore will go a long way in im­prov­ing ‘ease of do­ing busi­ness’. Steps in­tro­duced for clean­ing the sys­tem of po­lit­i­cal fund­ing, such as fil­ing of re­turns by po­lit­i­cal par­ties in a stip­u­lated time and ac­cept­ing dona­tions above 2,000 by cheque or dig­i­tal mode, will im­prove trans­parency in elec­toral fund­ing. Mea­sures to­wards pro­mot­ing af­ford­able hous­ing and real es­tate sec­tor are wel­come. The in­tro­duc­tion of a con­sol­i­dated Outcome Bud­get cov­er­ing all min­istries and de­part­ments is a path­break­ing move. States with good per­for­mance in dif­fer­ent sec­tors should be re­warded by in­creased al­lo­ca­tion. The Bill re­lat­ing to cur­tail­ing the me­nace of il­licit de­posit schemes and the res­o­lu­tion of fi­nan­cial firms will con­trib­ute to sta­bil­ity and re­silience of our fi­nan­cial sys­tem. A sharp hike in the al­lo­ca­tion of funds to the in­fra­struc­ture sec­tor was much needed. It is a wel­come move that Andhra Pradesh ex­pects to ben­e­fit from im­mensely. Al­lo­ca­tions for the de­vel­op­ment of elec­tronic clus­ters should have been ac­com­pa­nied by the an­nounce­ment of Shen­zen-style em­ploy­ment zones. I hope it will be an­nounced very soon. The fo­cus on the ru­ral econ­omy with a rise in farm credit, in­creas­ing in­sur­ance cov­er­age and tar­get­ing to dou­ble farm in­come is a much-needed step. The tar­get­ing of spe­cific pro­grammes in mis­sion-mode — such as Mis­sion An­ty­o­daya to bring one crore house­holds out of poverty and to make 50,000 gram pan­chay­ats poverty-free by 2019, the 150th birth an­niver­sary of Ma­hatma Gandhi, and achiev­ing 100% vil­lage elec­tri­fi­ca­tion by May 1, 2018 — is highly pos­i­tive. Im­part­ing new skills to the peo­ple in the ru­ral ar­eas in­cludes train­ing in ma­sonry to five lakh peo­ple by 2022. An ac­tion plan to elim­i­nate kala-azar and fi­lar­i­a­sis by 2017, lep­rosy by 2018, measles by 2020 and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis by 2025 is also tar­geted. A sim­i­lar plan has been pre­pared to re­duce the in­fant mor­tal­ity rate (IMR) to 28 by 2019 and ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity ra­tio (MMR) to 100 by 2018-20. Un­manned level cross­ings on broad gauge lines will be elim­i­nated by 2020. For a state like Andhra P r ade sh, which h a s been bi­fur­cated un­sci­en­tif­i­cally, I ex­pect more en­hanced sup­port and le­git­i­macy to the spe­cial pack­age im­ple­men­ta­tion from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

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