Surprises: P Chidambaram's Budget logs
Chidambaram’s policy prescription in the 10th annual financial statement of the UPA government will be a tight balance between the need for fiscal discipline, improving investor sentiment, raising tax receipts and some populist steps ahead of general elections in 2014.
He is often praised for presiding over India’s high-growth years. His previous tenure saw average annual growth touching 8.5%.
While presenting his last Budget in 2008-09, he credited revenue buoyancy to “moderate and stable tax rates, coupled with a tax administration that shows no fear or favour.” A sparkle of wit was to follow: “Having a lucky finance minister may have also helped!” Under his watch, the Indian economy achieved 9.3% growth in 2007-08.
The luck didn’t last. As the economic mood turned sour, Chidambaram’s successor Pranab Mukherjee argued that when everything goes well, everyone share the joy but when things go wrong, it is the finance minister who is called upon to administer the medicine. Mukherjee’s tenure was dampened by the global financial crisis and a slowing Indian economy with average annual growth dropping to around 7%.
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