From a change in tax slab to low-interest rates, there are a lot of expectations from the Union Budget 2017. When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would start his fourth Budget speech today, the most obvious question doing the rounds in the minds of people would be — if this budget would transform their lives?
Coming in the backdrop of demonetisation decision of Modi government and the subsequent unprecedented protests by opposition parties, the hype around Budget 2017 is not usual in many regards. It is being seen by many as a “make or break” budget for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even as a post-demonetisation report card of the government.
While it is certain that the opposition parties won’t appreciate anything the government may announce today, Jailtley has a rare opportunity to win hearts of people across the society. The question, hence, is: Will Jailtey present a ‘Kaabil’ (able) budget to make common people ‘Raees’ (affluent) or a ‘Raees’ budget that would benefit mostly the rich.
In the last three years, Modi government has tried to strike a balance by announcing budget provisions
favouring all classes of citizens. The inauguration of Modi government in 2014 had marked a new beginning in Indian politics, not just because the NDA won a historic mandate, but also because Modi regime came to practice a different economic philosophy.
The NDA’s economic world view is polar opposite to the previous UPA regime. Modi government’s focus, as reflected in the deliberations of NITI Aayog economists, PM Modi as well as the Finance Minister, is on empowering people by increasing their access to resources (money), instead of providing them means of subsistence through subsidies and job as well as food guarantee programmes. Jaitley’s last three budgets were guided by Modi government’s economic vision.
While one doesn’t know yet anything about the content of the budget to be presented today, we can still discuss what could be the best road map for making common people more affluent.
Subsidies have pitfalls like red tapism, corruption. These are the prominent reasons why subsidy-based development approach has not been able to end poverty in the country till now. Money in the hands of people, through mechanisms like direct benefit transfer, can inspire people to work for ending their poverty.
Modi government’s economic philosophy has the potential to make people “Raees”. However, will the budget this year provide enabling (Kaabil) tools in this regard? Hiking income tax slabs and lowering tax rates could be the starting points.