ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Once More on the ‘Humbug of Finance’

While an expansionary monetary policy acts by respecting private rationality, an expansionary fiscal policy, involving larger government expenditure financed by a fiscal deficit or taxes on capitalists, implicitly highlights the limitations of private rationality. Finance capital not surprisingly opposes the latter, even though the proffered arguments for “fiscal responsibility” have no theoretical validity. Given the current world economic crisis, a spate of beggar-my-neighbour policies are on the horizon. 

Erroneous Understanding of Macroeconomic Challenges

The government chose not to adequately expand budgetary expenditure to stimulate aggregate demand due to an erroneous understanding of India’s macroeconomic challenges. It relies heavily on imagined fiscal gains from demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax regime. The Union Budget 2017–18 was a missed opportunity for the government and our economy.

Emerging Issues in Union–State Fiscal Relations

The restructuring of non-Finance Commission Grants is an improvement when it comes to scheme-related transfers. However, when 10 schemes constitute 90% of core grants, there is further scope for rationalisation of these schemes. The implications of following a sustainable debt path under the new Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management framework in the budget indicate a larger fi scal correction at the state level vis-à-vis the union government.

Business as Usual

The global situation is tense, marked with protectionism. The domestic environment is constrained by the twin balance sheet crisis. The dull investment climate was further jeopardised by the note ban. The budget has failed to create a policy environment to kick-start a virtuous investment cycle. It has failed to address critical issue of accelerating employment.

Not for Growth

Sticking to the firm commitment to contain fiscal deficits, the reduced thrust on government spending does not seek to be countercyclical given that economic growth is falling. There is vast scope to step up collection of corporate taxes by widening the tax base through greater compliance.

What Does the Rural Economy Need?

The agricultural sector has performed worse than the other sectors over the years. The shares of non-agricultural employment and output have increased, while70% of agricultural householdscannot meet their low consumptionneeds even after diversification of sources of income. An analysis of budgetary provisions for the rural economy suggests that the government has not done enough to address some of these well-documented problems, and does not have the required vision to substantially increase rural employment opportunities.

An Examination of Revenue Generation

The revenue side of the budget is scrutinised to understand if the government is being realistic about revenue generation in 2017–18. Clearly, there is over-optimism, given that economic growth will be slow. Too much is expected from voluntary disclosure and penalties, while incentives are not in place. It would make sense to allow some slippage in the deficit targets in order to revive the economy. In addition, the increasing problem of cesses is discussed with reference to the Krishi Kalyan Cess to assess whether cesses serve the purpose for which they are introduced.

Demographic Dynamism of Punjab, 1971–2011

Three aspects of population—vital rates, population growth, and population composition—have played a key role in the demographic dynamism of Punjab since 1971. Population mobility shows a distinct pattern: outmigration and emigration from the state, and a simultaneous inflow of labour, chiefly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, leading to notable rise in Scheduled Caste population, and also a moderate increase in the share of Hindu and Muslim population.

Addressing the Agrarian Crisis in Punjab

The state of agricultural markets, the agricultural market policy and regulatory reforms in Punjab are reviewed in the context of the agrarian crisis. The farmer and farm worker manifesto of the Aam Aadmi Party is critically assessed. Policy mechanisms for agro-industrial development of the state are suggested.

Promise of Punjabi Diaspora

The Punjabi diaspora is globally dispersed with dense transnational networks. With a long history, its modern incarnation coincides with the beginnings of the Punjabi Suba movement in the 1950s. Over 85% of the Punjabis are now concentrated in Europe and North America. Political turmoil in Punjab in the 1980s created a new conflict-generated diaspora, which has become highly active in both host-land and homeland affairs. The Punjab state government’s response to the promise of Punjabi diaspora’s homeland linkages has shifted from reluctant engagement to indifference and needs a fresh initiative.

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