My Take on Budget 2022-23

Indraneel Bhowmik

The fourth union budget of FM NirmalaSitharaman proposes the next 25 years as the AmritKaal as our nation reaches the centenary. The priorities accordingly have been set for PM GatiShakhti, Inclusive Development, Productivity enhancement and investment, sunrise opportunities, energy transition and climate action and last but not the least, financing of investment.  The seven drivers of infrastructure- roads, railways, waterways, airways, ports, rapid mass transport and logistics infrastructure are expected to be the harbinger of growth and development and the Budget 2022-23 speech accords comprehensive importance on these along with IT, communication and social infrastructure among others.

Well, the FM is in a position to propose for a hopeful future in the backdrop of the signs of recovery of the Indian economy as we expect the worse from the pandemic is over. The Economic Survey published yesterday indicated that the Indian economy is back and marginally ahead of the 2019-20 levels though the service sector is still lagging. The consistency of the agricultural sector and the somewhat impressive revival of the industrial sector has provided the FM with higher than expected tax revenues which has buoyed the Revenue Receipts (RR). The increased RR as per revised estimates of 2021-22 has enabled the FM to peg the fiscal deficit (FD) at 6.9% for the current financial year, which if achieved is certainly credit worthy. She expects the good run in the tax collection to continue and hopes to bring down the FD to 6.4% in the next fiscal.

Interestingly, the economy is expected to reach 258 lakh crores in 2022-23 in nominal terms and the government expenditure is estimated to be 39.45 lakh crores which is just above 15% of the GDP. Significantly she also hopes that after a few bad years, the proportion of capital expenditure in total expenditure will increase to around 19% and the additional capital boost to the economy will have multiplier effects.  It is in this background that her allocation for defence, education, IT & Telecom, Transport and social welfare has increased. The indication to technology and innovation friendly governance is also visible in almost 1.5% increase in SENSEX today. I am also impressed with the declaration on Kisan Drones, which may augment agricultural production, productivity, diversification and intervention immensely. However, ensuring that the masses do not suffer due to lack of effective demand is a task for the FM too.

As a native of the Northeastern region, I am immensely happy with the Prime Minister's Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE). 1500 crores have been allotted under the aegis of the North-eastern council (NEC), which is also celebrating golden jubilee alike our state Tripura. I am extremely hopeful that even though in the immediate scheme of things, we do not see any specific programmes for Tripura in this fund, over the next year, our state will benefit from some sort of projects or activities related to infrastructure, social development, livelihood for youth and women, etc.

On the other side, as a taxpayer, I expected some kind of revision in the Income Tax rules, however, the FM probably did not want to disturb her revenue aspirations. Last but not the least, alike the interest, concern and curiosity generated regarding the disinvestment of AIR INDIA in the current year, the next year may see a lot of thoughts, voices and tidbits emerging over cups of tea and coffee on the proposed IPO of LIC.