Letters: Focus areas in Budget | Business Standard Letters

Letters: Focus areas in Budget | Business Standard Letters

Business Standard, December 3, 2015


December 2, 2015
Focus areas in Budget*

This refers to the report “Sinha spells out four pillars of Budget ‘16” (December 2). The move to infuse credibility in the Budget exercise by being more transparent on the foundation and pillars the Budget will stand is most welcome.
The focus on social security, agriculture, employment generation and improvement in tax structure in that order is a commendable improvement in the Finance Ministry’s stance on the process of budget-making. Simultaneously, government need to evolve a prudent ‘Asset Liability Management’ (ALM) approach in handling government finances. The ‘Take as it comes’ approach to revenue and ‘Pay as you go’ approach to expenditure which is a legacy of the pre-independence governments need a quick re-visit.
As history of several nations has shown, economic development alone cannot sustain long term social security for the people. Government gets an opportunity to make corrections in the financial planning exercise every year, if only there is a will to use annual budget as an instrument for the purpose, which is evident in the message given out by MoS for Finance.
Every year, the Economic Survey, which is presented just before the budget, gives an overview of developments affecting the basic features of economic growth and therefore have implications on subsequent financial management. This year, government could consider presenting a paper giving indicative information on the resources that can be tapped for mobilisation of funds for promoting growth and government’s priorities about their deployment over time. The sectors could include:
(i)                Areas including agriculture income, now enjoying tax concessions.
(ii)              Tax waivers, including those extended to corporates, provided during the last 5 or 10 years and the benefits derived. An attempt should be made to make beneficiaries plough back to the exchequer, a portion of the benefits they derive out of such concessions. Though this may be happening in different ways(like employment generation, reduction in exports etc), there is no transparent and meaningful analyses in these areas.
(iii)            Real Estate is another grey area. States and Local Self Government authorities may create an inventory of unutilised built-up areas, both residential and commercial. A nominal tax on unused/unsold buildings and commercial space could be thought of. This will improve real estate market.

M G Warrier, Mumbai



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