Real-time Stock quotes, portfolio, LIVE TV and more.
Aug 01, 2012, 12.28 PM IST
According to the Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express Shekhar Gupta, P Chidambaram will do well in the role of the Finance Minister of the country.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Gupta says that the finance ministry has suffered from neglect the past few years because of Pranab Mukehrjee’s involvement in several other areas. Gupta believes a full-time FM will help policymaking because he can focus much more on demanding issues.
“If you go by Chidambaram’s track record, I think he will do much better,” said Gupta, adding that Chidambaram will fare better in controlling fiscal deficit along with hadling stern decisions with the Opposition.
Below is an edited transcript of his interview with Udayan Mukherjee and Sonia Shenoy.
Q: Do you think Chidambaram will be able to do much, given that there was already a lot of hue and cry against him from the NDA on the 2G issues? Do you think he is the candidate who can put through contentious issues or reforms at this point?
A: See it’s not a question of what an individual can do; we are going through times of broken politics. The hiatus in Parliament would have continued irrespective of who the Finance Minister was going to be. I think what you need right now is a full-time Finance Minister, which we haven’t had frankly for more than two years. I am not suggesting that Pranab Mukherjee spent the past two years campaigning for Rashtrapati Bhavan, but the fact is that he was so caught up in so many other things, so much troubleshooting, so many GoMs and EGoMs. In fact, there were so many of them they were not reaching anywhere. Even if he was a superhuman public figure, it was impossible to keep it all going. So Finance Ministry in fact suffered by neglect.
You now have a situation where many islands have come up in the Finance Ministry by a combination of bad selection, some bad luck and coincidences. The ministry now has a set of the most incompetent, the most unimaginative and the most vindictive bureaucracy, some elements of which have actually turned rogue over the past year or so. The Tax Department needs to be reined in for example. You need a minister who will be there 24x7 and not bother about other things. Of course Chidambaram will have his problems in politics, in Parliament and elsewhere, but in today’s politics who doesn’t? So he will have to deal with that. But I think the best news is that the Finance Ministry has a full-time minister.
Other things we will see; how one individual performs in comparison with another is a different issue. If you go by Chidambaram’s track record, I think he will do much better, He will focus much more on controlling deficit. I think it comes much more naturally to him to say no to demands. He will be able to run ministry much better, he will read his files, people will not be able to walk around him for sure. Secondly, I think in terms of dealing with other ministries, I think expenditure control today is a very important thing, and then expediting areas which will bring in more money. Disinvestment is one, some of the auctions of resources is another, because almost half the year is now gone. If you look at what was budgeted for by way of fuel subsidy in the budget this year, it’s mostly been spent already. So you have got to do something in all these areas otherwise your deficit is going to be very, very high.
So if all that has to be done, these are tough times. As my personal assessment of him goes, I think he will be a reasonable minister. But more importantly, the Finance Ministry will have a full-time Finance Minister who is not multitasking and doing 20 other things.
May 22 2013, 13:11
- in MARKET OUTLOOK
May 22 2013, 10:44
- in Economy