‘I rise to present the Budget’, says Union Finance Minister every year before laying down the financial plan of the government; some were more about allocation to funds, while a few were about announcing decisions that changed the course of India and its economy. As we are heading close to this year’s budget day — though, an interim one — we decided to pick five budgets that had significant impact on India for years.
The Epochal Budget (1991)
Commonly known as ‘The Epochal Budget’, presented by Manmohan Singh in 1991, the budget was presented amid the Indian economic crisis, which marked the beginning on economic liberalisation. Manmohan Singh, under the Narasimha Rao government, overhauled the import-export policy and took measures to make Indian economy more global trade friendly. The customs duty was slashed from peak 220% to 150% and steps were taken to promote exports. Arguably, it was after this budget, India in the next two decades turned out to become one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world.
The Black Budget (1973)
The Black Budget is a term used for budgets that allocate fund for secret or classified projects. However, the 1973-74 Budget, presented by Yashwantrao B Chavan got this name due to the high budget deficit, which at the time was Rs 550 crore. In this budget, Chavan allocated Rs 56 crore for nationalisation of coal mines, general insurance companies and Indian Copper Corp. In the years to come, it is argued, the decision had an adverse impact on the productivity of India’s coal production and led to huge dependence on imports to meet domestic demands.
The Dream Budget (1997)
The budget was called the Dream Budget by media because the then Finance Minister under P Chidambaram, under the United Front government, made significant changes to bring down personal income tax and corporate tax. Chidambaram brought down the highest personal income tax rate from 40% to 30%, did away with many surcharges and slashed royalty rates. The lower tax rates helped increase compliance and were welcomed by common people.
The Millenium Budget (2000)
The budget presented in the year 2000 by Yashwant Sinha, and it is said to have revolutionised India’s Information Technology (IT) sector. In this budget, Sinha phased out Manmohan Singh’s incentive on software exporters, which was hailed as a courageous decision by policy experts. His decision to phase out incentives coupled with lower customs duty on 21 items, including computers and CD Roms, for the IT sector, led to the growth of the sector.
The Roll-Back Budget (2002)
Not all budgets are to introduce new plans; at least one budget came to be known for roll-back proposals. The budget presented by Yashwant Sinha became popular as Roll-Back Budget as he, later, rolled-back several of his proposals from service tax to hike in LPG prices under pressure from the opposition.