Implementation, not allocation is the key point
Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam’s take on the intricacies of Union Budget.
It is not always easy to make sense of the Budget. This is particularly so as every interest group looks at it in the narrow perspective of its own gains and losses. A vast section of our people, including farmers and agricultural workers, construction and industrial labour, and others are rarely able to decipher it, much less react to it.
The vocal sections like Chambers of Commerce and Industry and urban middle-class individuals and associations are the influential minority that keenly interpret, praise or criticise. The work of these classes was made much easier, simpler and interesting by the genius of Nani Palkiwala, who was even a greater Budget simplifier and demystifier than he was a lawyer and diplomat.
Now that we have no Palkiwala today, we have to grasp the implications on our own. So, what does the budget have in it for common folk like you and me? Well, not much. Inflation is not really likely to be controlled–at least for you and me–as the manufactured goods and food are going to cost more.
We, the Common People of India, have got some apparent relief as the base for tax has been raised from Rs. 1.8 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh. This looks like relief, but is not, because one lakh eighty thousand rupees of last year is worth more than Rs. 2 lakh this year, thank to inflation.
To have a concession of Rs. 22,000 one would have to have an annual income of Rs. 10 lakh. Most of us would not make that grade. Below that income the tax concession becomes increasingly insignificant.
Because there is no election following the Budget on its heels, Pranabda was not particularly inclined to populism. He did not need to give it a feel good flavour, that is. This has been tom-tomed as a “growth-oriented” Budget. Let us see.
There is a general hike in taxes. This is said to be a recipe for keeping the growth rate strong till 2014.
There is a 10 percent hike in allocation for minorities uplift programmes. No comment on that. However, one must say that as far as minorities are concerned the implementation of programmes is no less important than the amount of allocation.
One has to say it because funds for minority uplift are unused as a rule, thanks to bureaucratic humbugry and political indifference. Let us hope that this is not going to be the case in days ahead. g