Infuse professionalism in fiscal management

Infuse professionalism in financial management
This refers to your timely editorial “A taste of markets” (The Hindu Business Line, March 28). Without saying in so many words, the editorial gives a glimpse of the imprudent fiscal management by GOI and the not so professional way of resources management by Finance Ministry guided by NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog which was supposed to be a functional replacement for the Planning Commission, which Prime Minister Modi had in 2014 identified as a building in disrepair needing reconstruction.
Unfortunately, the three years didn’t see much contribution from NITI Aayog helping India to manage the country’s resources professionally, some open debates and research-type papers notwithstanding.
The present predicament of GOI in managing fiscal deficit and the over-dependence on banks and financial institutions for borrowings prove the pessimists who had doubts about Centre’s capacity to manage public debt independent of RBI right.
Any improvement in the management of domestic resources to the advantage of the country will depend on the political will to:
(a)             Mainstreaming the country’s domestic stock of gold and jewelry lying idle with individuals and organizations including religious bodies.
(b)            Discourage evasion of tax by providing appropriate incentives and disincentives by making taxation simple and transparent.
(c)              Get out of the fear of the unknown whenever GOI thinks about taxing agricultural income.
(d) Reconsider the decision to sell family jewelry (read PSUs) to shore up deficits.
Last three Economic Surveys addressed these issues peripherally and failed to get even the pragmatic suggestions implemented by the government.

A clear message down the line about non-interference by political leadership and government/s in the professional functioning of government departments (like Income-tax) and regulatory bodies (like RBI) will be a move in the right direction. Sermons or spars by or between elite politicians/officials won’t do much good today, as literacy has improved and people’s responses are issue-based.

M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram


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