Editorial

Tailor-made poll budget

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/2/2019 12:41:02 PM IST

 It was a rare occasion when an interim finance presented an interim budget on February 1 and rarer still was the fact that the jobs data including economic survey reports were unmentioned when the interim finance minister Piyush Goyal addressed all the key constituencies in his Budget speech- from farmers to the middle class. The 2019 interim budget had all the ingredients of being populist and with an eye for the Lok Sabha polls from April to May 2019. The budget has earmarked Rs.6000 per annum for farmers as relief but which translates into only Rs.17 a day per family. The relief is nothing compared with the cost on diesel, electricity and seeds which a farmer has to spend per day. In the recently presented interim budget of the interim finance minister Piyush Goyal, the government has also thrown convention to the wind by suppressing data from recognised institutions in order to fix the budget to suit its political interests. This has never been done before even by Indira Gandhi in her heydays where she ruled without challenge. Small and medium business enterprises are still reeling under the onslaught of the November 8,2018 demonetisation surgical strike. This has led to a crisis of confidence where a large number of people, including business persons, are not willing to invest another pie and would instead prefer to wait and watch. The sops announced to farmers, middle class and low income groups would demand a lot of money. There is nothing wrong with spending and being in a deficit for sometime. However, if the coverage is not done by revenue receipts and the deficit is not covered, then the next government would have its hands tied. The numbers show that the transfer from the Centre to the states for 2018-19 is around Rs 27,000 crore less than what finance minister Arun Jaitley, on medical leave in the US, had proposed in his budget last February. This roughly translates into a loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore for the bigger states and the Opposition-led state governments would not accept the cut silently. This cut will raise questions on not the cut alone but the budget arithmetic that is likely to throw up difficult posers for Goyal, whose speech lasted for 105 minutes, the longest for an interim budget, so far. A closer look at the numbers throw up the answer wherein, the receipt side clearly reveals that despite the tall claims by the Modi government, the collections from the much-hyped goods and services tax (GST) have been around Rs 1 lakh crore less than the projections Jaitley had made in his budget speech. If one falters on the revenue side, the share for the states will be cut. To support its spending the government is banking on an “ambitious” 18 percent increase in goods and services tax collection to Rs 7.61 trillion ($106.81 billion) in 2019/20 while it aims to borrow a higher-than-expected Rs 7.1 trillion from bond markets. The optics of the budget will be as important as the implementation of many of the measures. However, the next government will have to deal with the problem caused by a government which has destroyed key institutions to recalibrate data and the budget which the Modi government presented was tailored to suit its electoral interests.

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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