I Would Not Impose Additional Taxes
My Budget would seek to improve the livelihood of India’s masses and ease of doing business
Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das
With one eye on fiscal reforms and the other on populist measures, the Finance Minister faces a rather complex task of managing growth in the economy without compromising on prudence. At the same time, the FM needs to lift the spirits, of a fairly moody populace pinched by the transitionary burden posed by the GST, of the youth craving for more job creation and of the business world that wants a playing field that will help them compete on the global platform.
A bird’s eye view of the economy proves to be somewhat reassuring though — GDP growth is expected to remain in a relatively moderate 6.5-7 per cent range, capital availability is no longer a constraint for growth, the government has done commendable work in directing subsidies and arresting leakages with the help of Aadhar and investor sentiment remains high, as reflected in our ratings upgrade and a strong rupee. All these positives can be undone if citizens are not assured of jobs and inflation is not reined in.
Roughly, 49 per cent of India’s workforce is employed in agriculture. I would have to address this large segment with policy interventions that ensure better market mechanisms for farmers, make loans available at low interest rates so that they can modernise, provide infrastructure for better produce management and create an eco-system that is financially sustainable. A thriving agri sector is also critical to boost consumption and GDP growth.
The ‘Make in India’ initiative gains immense importance in this context. Technology will be the harbinger of good times both for improving productivity, creating a free and fair marketplace for all and paving the way for demand of Indian products both within the country and across the globe. The contribution of the manufacturing sector remains unchanged at roughly 17 per cent since the economic reforms back in 1991.Despite this, we have the example of India’s automobile industry which is today the world’s 6th largest hub. What prevents us from replicating this manufacturing success in steel, power, fertilisers, medical and farm equipment? A friendly and easy tax regime, faster approvals and resolution of issues and incentives to boost exports will be high on my mind.
With an estimated 18 million unemployed in 2018, the jobs scenario paints a worrying picture. PM Modi’s desire to create 10 million jobs will fail if workforce skills and the demands of industry are not aligned. This is where the ‘Skill India’ initiative will prove to be invaluable.
I would also ensure that public expenditure on roads, smart cities, renewable energy and railways continue and the private sector be incentivised to invest in it. This would create millions of jobs. India has several things working in its favour and I wouldn’t spook this upswing by introducing any kind of additional taxes.
My Budget would seek to improve the livelihood of India’s masses and ease of doing business, boost exports and incentivise capital investment.
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