In the past, budgets used to be a kind of state-of-the-union message, a strong indication of vision, direction and drive. Not any more.
Pranab Mukherjee's effort this year marks the beginning of the end of the budget document as a definitive statement on policy and direction. In the past, budgets used to be a kind of state-of-the-union message, a strong indication of vision, direction and drive.
Not any more. The budget exercise is gradually getting reduced to an annual accounting statement, and this budget is an indication of that trend.
The only thing we get in this budget is a fiscal deficit number and an indication that subsidies will be cut to 2% of GDP this year and to 1.75% three years down the line. But did it give us any roadmap on how to get there?
The budget told us that subsidies will be brought down by around Rs 60,000 crore this year but we don't know how this will be achieved. How are we going to reduce subsidies by such a huge amount in one year?
In fact, the indications are negative. Take petrol prices