This year’s Budget was presented against the backdrop of the elections of 2024 and there were a lot of discussions on how will the FM, in her 5th Budget, balances the priorities of the immediate-term challenges and the long-term pathway of development. To her credit, the priorities she articulated during her speech were targeted to address the needs of the economy both in the short and long-term with sharp focus on execution.
The consistent common themes of this Budget were on modernising and investment in the hard infrastructure, enhancing the coverage of social inclusion, including the indigenous tribal population in the formal economy, expanding the coverage of digital infrastructure across all verticals of the economy to improve the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of all sectors and ensuring sustainability in all programmes. The Budget proposals are focused on both the demand side growth through investment-led growth by increasing the capital allocation significantly on infrastructure while also increasing the potential for consumption-led growth by putting more money in the hands of the tax payer to boost personal consumption, ensuring MSMEs have the liquidity to invest and manage their capital requirements and the farmers benefit from the enhanced agricultural credit.
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The focus on boosting agriculture and setting up of the agriculture accelerator fund and leveraging the global scale of millet production in the country and value added products were noteworthy initiatives which will pay rich dividends in the future. This year’s Budget has defined the country’s economic, social and sustainability pathway for the long term and goes beyond just the capital allocation for programmes during the year. Some of the multi year schemes like the Jal Jeevan Mission and the PM Awas Yojana received significant increase in the allocation which will ensure acceleration of the programme implementation to the end objective.
People of this country represent the soft power that india can leverage in the future. With fast changing technological landscape, upskilling of the talent is a critical enabler for sustenance of national economic growth and hence the focus on skilling and ensuring the youth of the country gets access to newer technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics etc will lay the foundation for future demographic dividend. The government also knows much of the policy announcements require the states to also align to the same economic goals and hence there was multiple mention of the role of the states in implementation of the economic programmes that were announced today including nudging them towards capital investments.
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While the pandits will focus on the ways and means of the Budget and the allocation, it was heartening to see that the fiscal deficit pathway to be under 4% of the GDP is on course. The only item on which the FM was silent on was on disinvestment but the fine print do mention that around `51,000 crores has been taken into account on divestments for the Budget year.
The writer is ED & CFO, tata steel