Amid high expectations and political compulsions, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will present Union Budget 2012-13 on Friday. The big question is will he be able to boost the economic growth, control inflation and reduce the fiscal deficit through his budget.
ll Pranab Mukherjee be able to satisfy not only the opposition but his own allies like the Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress through his budget? The opposition of the Railway Budget by its own ally TMC shows that it is one of the most difficult year for the finance minister as he presents the budget.
Bold economic reforms are the need of the hour but how will he deliver this is what every one wants to see. Will the finance minister be able to respond to the growing chorus of a policy paralysis and concerns over a slowing economy through his budget? The indications are that Mukherjee might have good news for the salaried class as he might marginally raise the income tax exemption limit by Rs 20,000 to Rs 2 lakh per annum. This will leave more money in the hands of people stung by inflation and in an economy that's staring at the prospect of a sustained slowdown.
The Economic Survey, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, said growth would gather speed over the next two years, but radical policy changes, including FDI in retail and availability of farm land for the industry, were needed. The survey pegged the annual economic growth at about 7.6% in 2012-13 and 8.6% in the year after. The survey obliquely hinted that political compulsions had forced a delay in reforms in key areas. "There were also the pressures of democratic politics, which slowed reforms," it said.
But question marks hung over how many of the survey's intentions could fructify. Similar recommendations in the past have not always found reflection in the Budget.
"It (the survey) is a vital input for preparation of the Budget. I view this Economic Survey as a vehicle for new ideas and alternative policy options," said Mukherjee.
According to former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, "The finance minister should cut expenditure left and right. In eight years, this government has gone on increasing expenditure and shown no discipline."