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Budget 2018 Reactions: I think It Is A Populist Budget, Vijay Mehta

"This deficit may be a little higher than 3.5 per cent because the Government needs money to fund the schemes it has announced," says Vijay Mehta, Chairman & CEO, Mefcom Capital Markets Ltd., Co-Founder & Trustee, Global SME Business & Technology Centre- India

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the Union Budget?

Well, I need to go through the fine print of the budget to ascertain certain facts which are not known to me yet. It would not be right for me to comment before I go through it because the Finance Minister has introduced many measures in the budget where he has only announced what the Government is going to spend but, not how it is going to raise the money for the same. I do not think the fiscal deficit of 3.5 per cent will hold ground during the year as the Government might have to borrow more to fund its expenses. This deficit may be a little higher than 3.5 per cent because the Government needs money to fund the schemes it has announced.

Do you feel this is an election/ populist budget or a developmental budget considering the elections next year?

I think it is a populist budget, the Government has gone all out to woo the poor people and probably the electorate too, hence, we can expect the elections during this year only. Although, most of the benefits are announced keeping the poor populace in mind, the spend on infrastructure, smart cities and a lot of other measures will create employment opportunities which will benefit the industry indirectly as whatever will happen, the consumption pattern will continue.

Has the Government addressed the job/ employment issue adequately in this Budget?

If you really think, you create more jobs with every kind of expansion. Hence, whatever our Finance Minister has announced, such as the infrastructure growth, the growth of various other schemes, if it materialises, then it will create jobs indirectly, though not to the extent as has been promised by the Government, but it has made an attempt to make sure that the jobs are created.

Is the farm distress/agri crisis addressed well in this Budget?

There has always been a constraint for resources, but I think the Government has definitely tried to address the issue within the ambit of available resources. There are many provisions in the budget that will help farmers, with the main provision being that the Government will buy one and a half times of the farmers’ produce price. I think this announcement will go a long way as at least the base price has been determined, the rest is on market forces, but the farmers will get the dues they deserve for their produce.

Summarize the Union Budget in a few lines?

The Finance Minister has kept the popular support in view and has come up with the provisions which are developmental keeping an eye on the electorate.   

Three hashtag words/expressions to sum up the budget 2018?

Development with less incentives to people other than the poor class.

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