View: The big positives and one vital negative in Budget 2022
The initiatives like digital education platforms, health registry, and documents registry could potentially bring a meaningful difference to many lives.
February 01, 2022 / 05:42 PM IST
Translating the Union Budget for 2022-23 and the Economic Survey into the common man's language, I find that there are many positives that could be listed as follows.
The three best features of the Union Budget
for FY23 are perhaps:
- The status quo on taxation.
- The government conspicuously accepts the role of facilitator in investment, providing the lead role to the private sector. The government capex (up 9 percent over FY22RE) is mostly focused on four facilitating sectors – Roads, Railways, Communication and defence. The rest has been left to the private entrepreneurs with a promise of supporting and transparent policy regime.
- Institutionalisation of 'Vivad se Vishwas' settlement scheme through 'Updated Return' process. This along with a restriction on repetitive appeals on matter of law shall curtail tax litigation significantly.
Besides, the following are the key positive takeaways from the budget:
- The government appears willing to be a part of the global digital transition. Initiative to increase the use of digital technologies in key sectors like education, health, logistics, and agriculture is a good omen. Infrastructure status to data centres is a step in the right direction.
The initiatives like digital education platforms, health registry, and documents registry could potentially bring a meaningful difference to many lives. India may be running
10-12 years behind in adopting digital as a way of life and governance, but hopefully no more delays will happen and the proposals will be implemented quickly.
Recognition of the animation, visual effects, gaming, and comic (AVGC) sector as a high potential employment opportunity for youth; introduction of digital currency; and recognition of virtual digital assets (VDAs) like cryptocurrencies and NFTs as legitimate assets, demonstrate the change in bureaucratic mindset.
- Both the Budget and Economic Survey have overwhelmingly emphasized the need to promote clean energy. Incentives for solar panel manufacturing, national battery swapping policy, differential duty for blended fuel, mandatory co-firing of biomass pallets in thermal plants etc. are some key initiatives announced in this budget.
- Developing a 5-km wide chemical-free agriculture corridor alongside the river Ganga is a noble thought. Hopefully, it will be implemented fast and in right earnest.
- The river-linking project is given further impetus. After Ken-Betwa, DPR for 5 more river-linking projects has been completed.
- 2023 has been announced as the International Year of Millets. Support will be provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption, and branding millet products nationally and internationally.
- Recognition of mental health as one of the top priorities.
- Need for a paradigm shift in urban planning process recognised.
- Transparency and promptness in government payments to contractors and suppliers.
- Required spectrum auctions to be conducted in 2022 to facilitate rollout of 5G mobile services within 2022-23 by private telecom providers.
The finance minister may not have answered the wishes of many people. They can see it as a key negative takeaway of the budget. For me, the key negative is the lack of transparency. Not mentioning “end of bonus stripping”; comparing FY23BE capital expenditure with FY22BE instead of FY22RE are a couple of examples that may hurt the investors’ sentiments tomorrow morning.