Budget 2010: An Analysis

The budget document considers the high growth rates India has achieved as a ‘gain’, which needs to be consolidated so that there can be ‘inclusive’ growth. Economics, during its course has divorced rate of growth of output (of commodities and services) from the question of employment. Hence, we need to use terms like ‘jobless growth’, ‘inclusive growth’ and so on. Unfortunately, a weak form of trickle down theory is assumed in most cases. Therefore, having a high growth rate becomes a necessary pre-requisite.

It is comforting to see that the need for good institutions have been emphasised in the document. As one of the challenges is “to address the weaknesses in government systems, structures and institutions at different levels of governance. ”

Unorganised sector has been highlighted in the document. A National Social Security Fund has been established for workers in this sector. And the National Skill Development Corporation has approved three projects worth about Rs 45 crore to create 10 lakh skilled manpower at the rate of one lakh per annum targeting the unorganised sector. I guess the question is: do we impart skill to the workers or do we provide jobs according to their skill?

On the agricultural front, 5 more mega food parks are going to be set up as an impetus to the food processing sector. Under the Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme for Farmers, the period of repayment has been extended owing to the drought. In order to step up agricultural production, around 60,000 “pulse and oil seeds villages” are going to be set up. And the benefits of ‘green revolution’ are going to be increased by carrying out similar activities in the eastern region of India. The ‘benefits’ indeed!

Owing to the financial crisis, an apex level Financial Stability and Development Council will be set up with a view to strengthen and institutionalise the mechanism for maintaining financial stability. Alongside this, FDI flows will be liberalised more. It is interesting how new challenges/problems are brought about. Regulation is removed in a particular sector and regulation is increased in some sector. Overall, it seems to appear that ‘less regulation’ is considered efficient- right prices, no wastage of output and so on. Thanks to Neoclassical Economics.

Several projects are being set up to meet our energy demands and also to conserve our environment. Strengthening transparency and public accountability seems to be given adequate importance (in paper at least). In this context, an Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) chaired by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission to be set up to evaluate the impact of flagship programmes. More and more committees and commissions coming up!

On the whole, I think it is a more government’s budget than people’s or the corporates! However, their highlighting of the unorganised sector and the crucial role of institutions need to be congratulated.

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