Editorial

Statistics and economics

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/6/2019 12:27:26 PM IST

 If at all there is any explanation for the union budget presented on Friday by India’s first woman finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Congress leader Jyortiraditya Scindia described  it  as “ more of intent and low on content’. Of course, every opposition have their opportunity to issue their subjective certificates on every government budget. Nirmala Sitharaman has been conservative about bringing in far reaching blueprint to spur the India’s not so healthy economy. Her prescription for the ailing economy ranged from resisting resisted calls for a fiscal boost to spur a weakening economy, and sticking instead to a plan to narrow the budget deficit over time by keeping spending in check. To discourage the practice of making business payments in cash, the government proposes to levy TDS of 2% on cash withdrawal exceeding Rs.1 crore in a year from a bank account. The fiscal deficit target for the year that began on April 1 was lowered to 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product from 3.4 per cent set in February’s interim plan. The deficit is forecast to come down even further to 3 per cent of GDP by March 2021. However,  for those in the print media, the Modi –II government’s budget which proposes a 10 per cent hike in customs duty on newsprint, would certainly be like a mortal blow for small and medium newspapers especially those in the economically backward region like the north east. The hike will certainly add to the already high cost of inputs and could spell the end of many small struggling newspapers. The budget announced  a 10 per cent customs duty on newsprint and 5 per cent import duty on printed books. In addition to this, imported newsprint, the uncoated paper used for printing of newspapers and lightweight coated paper used for magazines would now attract 10 per cent customs duty. Previously, there was no import duty on newsprint. The hike in customs duty would affect the Indian newspaper industry, which had already been struggling with high newsprint prices after China decided to stop production of newsprint. In January last year, China banned the low-quality paper on which newspapers are printed in an aggressive push to combat pollution in the country. It would also mean that big newspapers that are making inroads into the north east would emerge as key players.The other common feature shared by journalists of almost all the north-eastern States is that they work in hazardous conditions due to militant/terrorist activities in some of the north-eastern States. Despite limited revenues, the newspaper industry in the region have been playing their role in contributing to the development of national awareness in the region. The other discouraging aspect of the budget has been the hike in excise duty and cess on petrol and diesel, respectively, by Re 1 per litre. This increase in petrol and diesel prices will result in a rise in the cost of essential items and transport costs for the common man. The hikes will add to the already high cost of items and will also offset the variables. While seeking to raise Rs.50 lakh crore as revenues for the Indian Railways through private participation, the  proposal was like handing over the common man’s transport system to rich people. The net effect of Sitharaman’s budget will be put to test on whether it will actually spur overall growth or confined to promoting schemes.

 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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