New Delhi: Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal said that Budget 2018-19 proposals were aimed at removing the structural impediments to attain long term growth, a budget that rises above populism and puts a premium on honest investment towards building a ‘New India’.
Delivering a ‘Post Budget Talk’ organized by The Hindu BusinessLine and SASTRA Deemed University in association with FICCI, Goyal said the budget shows sensitivity to the poor and marginalized sections of the society, focusses on speed of project execution, seeks to keep a tab on every rupee that is to be spent by the government and is outcome-oriented.
Goyal said that the government means business is evident from the fact that it made bold moves to demonetize high value currency and bring in a transformational tax reform measure by way of GST, knowing fully well that no government across the world won an election after having gone through the twin measures.
He said the economy was now well set to achieve a high growth path and is expected to close the current year at 6.7% and the expectation is that it will clock 7.5% in 2018-19. This government, he said, is focused on creating job creators by empowering the people and is now looking at increase in investments on the back of honesty.
On the implementation of the world’s largest ‘National Health Protection’ scheme covering over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families up to Rs. 5 lakh for secondary and tertiary treatment, Mr. Goyal said the ecosystem and the economies of scale for making the scheme a success would come. As an example, he said, for making the scheme successful, the healthcare facilities of the organizations such as the railways and Coal India Ltd. which are located in remote areas could be leveraged.
In his keynote address, Shaktikanta Das, Member, 15thFinance Commission, said that any budget can be assessed on whether it satisfies three parameters – Promotion of macro-economic stability, including fiscal prudence and financial stability; the steps taken in the direction of structural reforms; and the kind of developmental and infrastructure schemes it promotes. On all these counts, Budget 2018-19 is comprehensive in its approach and addresses the critical concerns of the economy, he said.
At a panel discussion later, the discussants – Y K Modi, Executive Chairman, The Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd. and Past President, FICCI; Sanjaya Baru, Secretary General, FICCI and Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance – spoke on whether Budget 2018-19 was the best the country could have had.
Modi was of the view that the budget is no answer to triggering investment, more so at a time when most of the industries were working at 70-75% capacity utilization. What was important was fiscal prudence and ensuring that steps are taken to curb dumping from markets that were not open. Dr. Baru said that the single biggest challenge faced by the economy was investment and for taking the GDP growth to a higher trajectory, reviving it should be a key priority of the government. Sanyal, on his part, while agreeing that there has been a slowdown of investment from the private sector, said there were good signs of domestic and global demand picking up and industrial capacities getting filled up. He, however, voiced concern on the country’s performance in enforcement of contracts and dispute resolution.