Union Budget 2017-18 – Political economy’s changing contours


Is the Union Budget slated for eventual insignificance? We analyse.

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केंद्रीय बजट 2017-18 - राजनीतिक अर्थव्यवस्था के बदलते रंग

एक इस वर्ष का बजट अनेक मायनों में पिछले वर्ष के बजट के साथ सुसंगति करता दिखता है। इस वर्ष के बजट के दस महत्वपूर्ण क्षेत्र वे ही हैं जो वे पिछले वर्ष थे, इसमें केवल “डिजिटल अर्थव्यवस्था” के क्षेत्र को जोड़ा गया है, जो सुस्पष्ट कारणों से किया गया है। कुछ लोग कह सकते हैं कि नया राजनीतिक दृष्टिकोण संपूर्ण बजट प्रक्रिया की नीतिगत परिवर्तन की केन्द्रीयता को ही समाप्त करता है। अब यह काम बजट से पूर्व कभी भी किया जाता है। (इसका अर्थ है - प्रमुख आर्थिक निर्णय अब बजट के अतिरिक्त किये जा रहे हैं) वर्ष 2015 के नवंबर में, वर्ष 2016 के बजट के ठीक तीन महीने पूर्व यह देखा गया जब मंत्रिमंडल ने 15 क्षेत्रों के विदेशी प्रत्यक्ष निवेश प्रस्तावों को मंजूरी प्रदान की। इसी प्रकार सरकार ने जनवरी 2016 में, बजट से केवल एक महीने पूर्व, स्टार्टअप इंडिया और स्टैंडअप इंडिया जैसी पहलों का अनावरण किया। (क्या यह बजट के महत्व को कम करने की दिशा है?)

उसी प्रकार, इस वर्ष भी विमुद्रीकरण के कदम की घोषणा नवंबर 2016 में, इस वर्ष के बजट के लगभग तीन महीने पूर्व की गई, और सस्ते आवास योजना और किसानों के लिए रियायतों का उल्लेख प्रधानमंत्री के नव वर्ष के उद्बोधन में किया गया था (बजट से कहीं पूर्व)। यह एक प्रकार से बजट से ध्यान हटा देता है और सरकार को यह नम्यता प्रदान करता है कि वह प्रमुख और महत्वपूर्ण आर्थिक निर्णय किसी भी समय, अपनी सुविधा के अनुसार ले सके। अतः ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि बजट से जुड़ी हलचल अब काफी हद तक समाप्त हो गई है। यदि यही पार्टिया सरकार में 2024 तक बनी रहीं, हम उम्मीद कर सकते हैं कि बजट लगभग एक गैर-महत्वपूर्ण घटना बन कर रह जाएगा। हालांकि, एक अनिश्चित वातावरण में सुसंगतता बेहतर परिणाम दे सकती है। ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि आर्थिक निर्णय लेने की शक्ति राजनीतिक रूप से परिवर्तित हो गई है। परंतु फिर भी बजट एक संसदीय प्रक्रिया है जिसपर बहस होती है और और यह जांच तंत्र की प्रक्रिया से होकर गुजरता है। वर्तमान सरकार के अधीन राजनीतिक चर्चा को आकार देने में बजट की प्रासंगिकता काफी हद तक समाप्त हो गई है। कृपया आर्थिक समीक्षा और केंद्रीय बजट के सभी दस्तावेज बोधि संसाधन पृष्ठ से डाउनलोड करें। 

Union Budget 2017-18 – Political economy’s changing contours

The consistency of this year’s budget with that of the previous year is visible in many ways. The ten thrust areas of this year’s budget are the same as that of the last budget, with only the addition of “digital economy”, which, of course, is for obvious reasons. Some may say that the visible new political approach takes away the centrality of the entire budget exercise as a policy shift. It now happens almost any time before the budget. (What it means is – major economic decisions are happening other than in the Budget). It was evident in November 2015, just three months before the 2016 budget when the Cabinet cleared reform proposals like easing the FDI restrictions across 15 sectors. The government unveiled the action plan for Startup India and Standup India programmes just one month prior to the budget in January 2016.  (A conscious effort to demystify and deglamourize the Budget?)

This year too, the demonetization move was announced in November 2016, just about less than three month before the budget, and the mention of affordable housing plan, and incentives for farmers found place in the PM’s New Year speech (much before the Budget). This, in a way removes the attention from the budget and gives the government the flexibility of taking major economic decisions at the time of its choice. Hence, budget seems to have lost part of its volatility. If this dispensation continues in government continues till 2024, we may expect the Budget to become practically a non-event! In an uncertain environment, however, consistency may yield better responses. The power of economic decision-making seems to have shifted politically. Yet the budget still remains a parliamentary exercise which goes through debate and passes through scrutiny mechanisms. The budget, under the present government, has to a great extent lost its relevance in shaping political discourse. Please download original files of Economic Survey and Union Budget from the Bodhi resources page.

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Bodhi Saar: Union Budget 2017-18 – Political economy’s changing contours
Union Budget 2017-18 – Political economy’s changing contours
Is the Union Budget slated for eventual insignificance? We analyse.
Bodhi Saar
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