By Krishangi Singh:
After a decade of lethargy and inaction from the last government, people had all their hopes pinned on the budget from the newly formed NDA government. With PM Modi’s campaign that revolved around the ‘Acche din’ to come and his constant reference to take ‘bitter pills’ to improve the economic situation of the economy, people expected this budget to usher the era of growth and development that the country so direly needs.
Thus, when Mr. Arun Jaitley rolled out the budget that barely addressed all economic issues currently under scrutiny, what with the allocation of funds in a largely unequal manner, it was crystal clear that a substantial faction of people will disapprove of this budget.
The budget 2014-15 seems to have clear objective about the desired economic status but lacks an action plan to achieve it. However, to say that the budget is a complete misallocation of thought and funds would be a mistake. This budget include many smaller policies that will lead on to a large scale impact if implemented correctly.
I want toÂ throw light onÂ six policies that seem small scaled but are actually well thought-out, keeping in mind the immediate needs of the public.
1. Excise duty hike in Tobacco Products
The 72% excise duty hike in all tobacco products might seem in wake of the recent spike in consumption and rather uninhibited access of tobacco to children. The move comes quite late as even after drafting numerous anti-tobacco and anti-smoking laws, the government has failed to implement them effectively. According to the report by the International Tobacco Control Project (ITCP), health of Indian citizens could be in serious trouble leading to a death toll of 1.5 million a year by 2020 if more users are not persuaded to quit tobacco.
2. Reduction of price difference between premium fuel and ordinary fuel
According to a Yale University study that assessed 178 nations, India’s air quality ranks among the lowest five countries, with New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. Alternate fuels such as CNG have reach in very limited number of cities and so in wake of such circumstances, it is a wise move to make clean fuel available at affordable rate to promote its use for a healthier city environment.
3. Need based distribution of the Prime Minister National Relief Fund
The PMNRF fund is used for various schemes announced by the prime minister and also for relief during emergencies like floods and other such incidents. Until recently, the fund was allocated to various agencies through lottery system which was of course unfair as it meant that help will be provided but only on the basis of a lucky shot. As Mr Modi tweeted regarding distribution of the PMNRF “selecting beneficiaries in a comprehensive, scientific and humanitarian basis, giving priority to children and poor”.Â This budget has very smartly decided to abandon this unfair practice and allocate fund only on need priority basis for a more intelligent use of funds.
4. Self-attestation of IDs and other documents
To make official work easier for general public, the union government is now allowing citizens to self-attest their Ids and address proofs and advising state governments to do the same. This will make official work easier and faster as people are no longer required to wait in long ques at notaries.
In a move to give a major boost to the tourism sector, this budget has started electronic visa system on arrival for 9 airports in the first phase. The Hospitality industry is the third-largest foreign exchange earner, accounting for 8.78% of India’s total employment, according to a report by the Planning Commission. The ease in issuing visa will certainly attract more tourists to further develop this sector. Apart from this, e-visa will also make it easier for visa authorities to keep a check on international visitors for suspicious activities and help strengthen the national security.
6. Faster process for seeking licenses
In a country like India where the red tape hassles make sustaining a business an immense challenge, any move that goes to resolve the labyrinth of paperwork is wholeheartedly welcome. This budget has hit the bull’s eye on the issue of reducing red-tapism to an extent. This budget increases industrial licenses’ initial validity up to 3 years and also allows a swifter process for industrial license renewal for 2 years. Apart from this, lifetime marine licenses will now be issued from local marine authorities rather than central authorities in New Delhi which are essential for industries given their salient necessity to ship raw material & products.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that ever since the release of Budget 2014-15, the criticism it has received had overshadowed its sunny side. This budget might not be the ideal ‘bitter pill’ India so chronically needs but these small policies will certainly go a long way to cure the country’s economy.