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Budget 2018 Reactions: The Whole Speech Is Announcing Schemes, Welfare Schemes, R.S. Sharma

"The main focus of the budget has been, if you look at the budget speech, the whole speech is announcing schemes, welfare schemes, for the poor and rural sector and the agriculture sector, rural housing, health protection schemes for the below poverty line people," R.S. Sharma, Former CMD, ONGC Ltd

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, R.S. Sharma, Former CMD, ONGC Ltd, shares his views on the Budget introduced on February 1st. Edited excerpts:

There will be a BW Report Card – On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate the budget?

I would rate it 3. The main focus of the budget has been, if you look at the budget speech, the whole speech is announcing schemes, welfare schemes, for the poor and rural sector and the agriculture sector, rural housing, health protection schemes for the below poverty line people. So that has been the main focus, so apparently, it is an election budget. So we, practitioners of the industry, for example, I belong to the oil industry, as the former chairman of ONGC, so there is no mention of how the government wants to achieve 10% of reduction in import dependency. What relief measures, what incentives are there for us. The government wants to make India a gas based economy. What is the relief in that direction, what incentives are there for the investment in this sector? So I don’t see any announcement in the FMs speech, so more detailing would be in the annexures, we will have to see what is there. Had there been any major incentive or a relief, that announcement would have come, I don’t see that.

Do you feel this is an election budget?

Well I am very candid to say that, it’s not a growth-oriented budget. It is a welfare budget.

Is the jobs / employment issue adequately addressed in the Union Budget?

Look, it is there in the speech that jobs will be created, but industry, unless you promote the industry, you promote the manufacturing sector, you give concessions, how that will happen? Make-in-India, there has to be a major announcement for the people to come and invest here, and I don’t see those announcements.

Is the rural distress / agriculture crisis adequately addressed in the Budget?

Well, I feel that that is a weaker section of society, that needs support. That’s why I have given 3 points to this budget as there are positive announcements for those sectors.

How do you summarise the Union Budget, in a few hundred words?

Disappointing.


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