Union Budget 2019: Apart from agriculture and infrastructure, most economists wanted Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to focus on jobs and skill development in Budget 2019.
Union Budget 2019: Budget 2019 is expected to be one of the most crucial Budgets in Modi 2.0 regime. It will set the tone for policies and reforms in the next five years of the NDA government which came back to power riding on a huge wave of support for PM Narendra Modi and his policies. Experts have hailed successful implementation of PM Modi’s pet schemes like Ujjwala, Mudra and PM Aawas Yojana, etc., which gave benefit to the most marginalised as the reason behind this success. The new Modi government is expected to not only carry these policies forward but also to expand in new areas. Financial Express Online asked experts and economists about what they think would be the top five focus areas for the Modi government in Budget 2019. Of the ten focus areas listed by Financial Express Online, viz., infrastructure, jobs and skill development, agriculture and rural economy, SMEs, social sector, petroleum and gas, exports and trade, Power, water for all (Jal Shakti) and businesses and commerce, agriculture, infrastructure and job creation emerged the top choices.
Budget 2019 India: Agriculture and Infrastructure top choice of economists
Though most economists feel that Infrastructure should be the key focus area in Budget 2019, Agriculture got a higher cumulative score and pipped infrastructure to grab the top spot. Vikas Vasal, National Leader – Tax at Grant Thornton in India said, “Many of these areas are inter-linked and complement each other. The focus should be to boost investment in large infrastructure projects and provide support to the rural economy.” “Focus on infrastructure and development, will, in turn, lead to job creation, which would, in turn, boost consumption and savings, leading to increase in demand of consumer and semi-durable goods and savings being channelised into banks and the stock market,” Vasal explained.
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Talking to Financial Express Online Bidisha Ganguly, Chief Economist at CII also expressed similar thoughts and added that all areas mentioned are important for the revival of the economy in a holistic way. “Focus on infrastructure, jobs and rural economy are critical for reviving growth with employment.”
Apart from agriculture and infrastructure, most economists wanted Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to focus on jobs and skill development in Budget 2019. PwC’s Partner and Leader Public Finance and Economist Ranen Banerjee stressed upon the need to focus more on the job and said, “The need for focusing on job creation is the topmost priority. The items ranked as 1 to 4 (Infrastructure, SMEs, Agriculture and trade) will all contribute to jobs.” However, Sachchidanand Shukla, Chief Economist at Mahindra Group believes, “Jobs are an ongoing task and the whole world is worried about job creation. Soft infrastructure like healthcare, education and water are a priority for this government”.
SMEs and Social Sectors ranked fourth and fifth as the key areas of focus for the Budget 2019 in Financial Express Online’s survey followed by water for all (Jal Shakti) at close 6th. But PwC’s Ranen Banerjee ranked water for all ahead of social sector schemes “as it can have a huge impact on health itself.”
On the issue of economic revival, given recent gloomy economic data which indicated a big slump in GDP growth rate and job creations, CII’s Bidisha Ganguly said, “Economic revival cannot be dependent only on domestic demand but also on exports which must be revived.” Another large lending firm also reflected the same sentiment saying, “Unless business sentiments are revived, one will not have the required resources to carry out reforms in other areas.”
Nikhil Gupta, Chief Economist at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Limited picked Infrastructure, Jobs, SMEs, Social sector and Jal Shakti as his top five key focus areas in the Budget 2019.
Apart from the listed areas in the survey for Budget 2019, Vikas Vasal of Grant Thornton in India wanted the government to focus on the availability of land for industry and labour reforms. “If these are addressed, it will have a positive impact on both foreign and domestic investment,” Vasal said.