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Budget 2019: Pre-election Goody Bag

by Team TrickyScribe
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Dr Manipadma Datta | The TrickyScribe: Interim budget FY19-20 has a special distinction as it is the last one by the present government. That the governments in Indian have a fixed five-year term notwithstanding, this is the sixth consecutive one in the queue.

If one asks so as to who the chief beneficiaries are, the answer is obvious-the Indian middle class, and the urban group if pointed out more precisely! People already in gainful employment are likely to benefited most with quite a decent jump in their disposable income with lesser tax burden. So, the consumer goods producers and service providers would equally be happy. So, much talked about poor Bharat would further keep lagging smarter India!

Naturally, some political compulsions seem unavoidable. This time the budget, however, looks a bit overloaded. Too many sops, too little perspective! There is some good news too! Let us first highlight some of the positive things the Budget has accommodated. Tax collection has increased, both in the direct and GST segments! Customs duty abolition for capital goods is another bold step.

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PM Narendra Damodardas Modi claimed that the Budget will empower the poor, give a boost to the farmer and an impetus to economic growth. The PM added that 12 crore farmers and their families, 3 crores middle class taxpayers will be directly benefitted. That apart, farmers with landholding size below 5 acres will also be helped by PM Kisan Nidhi. PM Shram Yogi Man Dhan Yojana aims at safeguarding unorganised sector’s interests.

For farmers, whatever has been thought of is certainly far less than what is needed, given the magnitude of the population in India. The relief proposed would benefit certainly a section of farmers. But, what is there for the landless and marginal agricultural workers? This is undoubtedly one more area our government has chosen to ignore! What was expected, particularly in the context of farmers’ plight all over the country with the increasing rate of suicides and continued decline in the price of farm produce, this Budget would at least declare some quick measures. The expectations got belied!

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Proposal for making tax assessment online would certainly enhance more transparency in the system. Expanding food security and schemes like PM Shram Yogi Man Dhan Yojana could help the underprivileged section. Given our poor record of implementation over decades, we, however, are destined to wait!

Climate and sustainability seem to be next losers. Environment perhaps got defeated to development! With increasing GDP consistently for years, it could be the best time for us to go greener! Unfortunately, that has not happened! Keeping GST formalities for the small entrepreneurs requiring submission of returns once in every quarter would certainly increase the motivation of small traders resulting in more tax collection and compliance.

A budget should create more hopes for the posterity, the Generation X. Where is the new scope for our youth? Particularly when the unemployment rate in the country is reported to have risen to an alarmingly high level, highest in last forty-five years! Let’s hope, all the good things proposed would continue and corrections would be attempted by the next government!

(The author is a Professor of Business and Sustainability at TERI School of Advanced Studies, Delhi)

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