Finance Ministers have an uncanny way of figuring out what makes the fish bite and neutralizes the sceptics. Nicely rounded words in the budget speech – like phonetic “quick wins” – come in handy to send the roosters crowing a new Dawn. A three pronged paradigm shift in the budget? FM Sitharaman’s salad dressing for […]Read More Budgetary provisions matter more than the speech
Despite the hoopla around the Union government’s Budget, for citizens, allocations in their state budgets matter more. Nearly two-thirds of total government expenditure is done by states and for capex, this could be even higher (FY 2020-21 BE data). Union FM primus inter pares Twenty-eight states and eight Union Territories share the enlarged pie at […]Read More A bottom up look at the annual budget
On the eve of the 2021-22 budget presentation, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has clearly earned her spurs just two years into the job. A coordinated collection tax effort revives revenue receipts in Q3 Despite the economy being somewhere between 15 to 8% below last year’s level all through Q3 (October to December) this year, cumulative […]Read More FM Sitharaman earns her spurs raising expectations sky high
Despite receipts being 18% lower than even last year till November, largely because of the yawning gap against the aggressive budget estimate for disinvestment receipts (Rs 2,1 trillion), the Union government did well to spend almost 5% more than last year by enhancing borrowing. This is in the best traditions of trying to keep the […]Read More Budget for hope, build resilient foundations
Despite the hoopla around this year’s annual budget, it is unlikely to be a stunning display of “clever accounting” catering to all whilst pleasing none. Nor is it likely to strew goodies all around. Challenges abound The need is to spell out hard fiscal decisions. The list of challenges is long. The interest burden consumes […]Read More No room for extravagance in 2021-22 budget
Episodes of fiscal stress are unpleasant. But, like war, they are necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff in governments expenditure profile. The growing overhang of debt servicing This year interest payments account for 89% of the budgeted fiscal deficit. The accumulated debt was incurred not to finance infrastructure or enhance investments. It is […]Read More FM plays Shylock with steely grit
A decadal “look ahead,” even as geopolitical, technological and environmental disruptions push uncertainty to worrying levels, closely resembles a fool’s wager. The upside, however, is an even chance of getting it right, just like everyone else. DOMESTIC POLITICS — The silence of stability Our biggest challenges will emerge from domestic politics. The political threats are […]Read More India till 2030- Testing the marginal utility of political stability
Indian Left Liberal intellectuals are letting their shallow ideological moorings show. They support the agricultural reforms initiated by the Union government, including the corporatization of agriculture. But they oppose letting big business own banks, reflecting the colonial disdain for “box-wallahs” (business). Yes, to agricultural reform, including corporatization Farmers in Punjab and Haryana — the “gold […]Read More Big business owned banks -a Trojan Horse?
Creativity blooms during periods of extreme turbulence. One such example is the “Doing Business” index, which was initiated in 2003, in the aftermath of the dotcom boom-bust of 2000-2004. Back then, state led development had decisively given way to a preference for an open economy, competition, markets and private enterprise. The Doing Business index benchmarked […]Read More How creative is the Indian economy?
One of the realizations, home-spun by Covid in India, is that there is value to “atmanirbharta” (ANB) or self-reliance – the capacity to march alone, if necessary. An admirable attribute except that “aloneness” creeps up silently on you like a habit, difficult to shake off. Looked at more cheerily, it is not so different from […]Read More Marching alone