ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Budget 2020-21Subscribe to Budget 2020-21

Union Budget and the Trade Sector

The Union Budget for 2020–21 emphasised the need to restrict imports. A number of measures were proposed to realise this objective. These include the use of tariffs and non-tariff measures, making Rules of Origin agreed upon in the free trade agreements work efficiently, and effective monitoring of imports and exports. The finance minister spoke of modifying import tariffs for creating a level playing field for micro, small and medium enterprises in several product sectors and using import tariffs to promote the domestic production of electric vehicles and mobile phones.

Financial Sector in the Budget

The 2020 Union Budget has announced several small steps that could give some fillip to the financial sector in the short run, but the lack of a long-term vision for reviving an economy in downswing remains most conspicuous.

Goal Setting for Indian Agriculture

Though the 16-point action plan for agriculture laid down in the 2020 Union Budget continues prioritising subsidies and safety nets over agricultural investments, it does not make any fundamental improvements in the allocations towards these heads.

Fiscal Consolidation Ex Post the ‘Escape Clause’

Launching an “excessive deficit procedure” in India is inevitable for growth revival. This is crucial, especially when there is considerable ambiguity about why the “escape clause” was invoked in the Union Budget 2020: whether to meet the shortfall in tax revenue emanating from the unanticipated fiscal outcomes of structural reforms, or to boost the capital formation in the economy.

A Low Growth, No Employment and No Hope Budget for ‘Aspirational India’

The Union Budget of 2020 is conspicuous by its non-recognition of the ongoing and widely discussed slowdown of the economy, let alone its impact on the different sections of the people. Given the negative growth in employment and consumption in the rural economy, the budget seems like a cruel joke on the plight of the poor, in general, and women, in particular. Instead of measures for boosting the aggregate demand, especially in the rural economy, the government has exhibited a track record of aiding the process of wealth creation for corporate capital and throwing a few crumbs to the middle class. What comes out crudely and sharply is the ideological predilections of the regime in power.

Tax System Changes in the Budget

There were high expectations from the budget on the changes in the tax system to provide stimulus to the beleaguered economy. However, fiscal conservatism has prevailed. The attempt to broaden the base by eliminating tax exemptions and preferences could have been done without complicating the tax structure. On the macro side, there are questions about the unrealism of the revenue estimates. Unduly optimistic estimates result in “tax terrorism,” lead to inefficient budget management and have adverse impacts on state finances.

Fiscal Restraint Trumps Fiscal Stimulus

The 2020 Union Budget has failed to provide any fiscal stimulus based upon the assumption that there is no fiscal space for providing growth stimulus. In doing so, it missed out on the opportunity of leveraging an additional fiscal space of around 10% of the gross domestic product that could have been tapped through revenue and expenditure rationalisation measures.
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