Opinion

The unnecessary media circus around budget

 

Budgeting is a mundane exercise that no one enjoys. When it comes to the same exercise for 130 Crore Indians its almost downright boring. Like the last year and the years before, no new big bang policy decision has been taken in the 2018 Union Budget.

To put it in perspective, only the number of GST changes in last 6 months have been more than all the taxation changes proposed in the money bill put to the parliament. Size of Bharat Mala project – announced in October last year is much bigger than anything new in this Budget.

Even Bank recapitalization plan is outside the scope of the budgetary announcements.

Sure, government has proposed bringing back Long Term Capital Gain Tax, but that will just mean some sleepless nights of country’s top accountants and realignment of long term investments by High Net worth Individuals and Organizations.

It’s been almost decade and half when the Finance Ministry discovered that anything of vital importance should be kept out of this money bill at all costs. After all, in the era of coalition governments defeat of money bills over unnecessary discussions leading to fall of government was a real possibility. It was then discovered that typically Union Budget timings are too off for electoral gains from big announcements and a flexibility in having such announcements is both desired and required.

Ever since the budget is little more than a photo-op which has not much of a significance. In last fifteen years except for a couple of loan waivers proposed in budgets hardly any other decision stands out.

With the reference may be its time that media changes its focus on what governments intend to do in the next year instead start asking tough questions on the last year missed budgetary targets i.e. the missed fiscal deficit targets, unspent allocations, overspendings due to project delays and seeping of funds meant for welfare.

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