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First Take: DTE-CSE Roundtable on Budget

On road to sustainability?

Many nice words, some money but no direction for real change

A symbolic budget

Despite the right words, programmes are are not well thought out

It's pouring money and schemes in agriculture

No dearth of funds for agri credit and new institutions

Farewell to welfare

Budget is a patch work of abandoned schemes revived or existing ones re-named

Green expectations - Dashed hopes

Budget upholds UPA-II blunders to protect the automobile industry

Health infrastructure sans care

Who will run all the institutes and labs promised?

Country's newest state gets a horticulture university and a Debt Recovery Tribunal while Andhra gets an IIT, AIIMS, 20 industrial clusters and a host of other projects
Author: M Suchitra
The maiden budget of Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre has failed to cheer Telangana, the youngest state in the country. Except for setting up a horticultural university and a Debt Recovery Tribunal in Hyderabad, the budget offers nothing to the state. Out of the 10 districts in Telangana, eight are backward. The first chief minister of the state, K Chandrasekhar Rao, soon after taking charge on June 2, had visited Prime Minister Modi in Delhi and submitted a memorandum seeking Central help in the development of the new state.
Reduction in ministry's budget by almost half expected to hit forestry research the most
Author: Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
In the past few years, though the budget allocation for the ministry has been much less than what it demanded, it has always hovered around Rs 2,000 crore per year (except in the last interim budget of the UPA government before the elections, in which the plan outlay for the ministry was Rs 1,050 crore). The ministry, starved of funds and human resource, has hardly been able to efficiently implement its existing schemes, giving enough reasons for financial planners to consider not investing in new ones. This, despite a clear understanding that certain aspects such as forestry research, wildlife habitat protection and human-wildlife conflict need immediate attention.
Statue of Unity, projected as the world's tallest structure, has no environment clearance and will displace tribals
Author: Soma Basu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi received flak last year when he, as the chief minister of Gujarat, decided to construct the world’s largest statue in his state. A year later, his new finance minister announced Rs 200 crore for the project that is yet to receive environmental clearances. The 182-metre-high iron and bronze statue of India’s first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, once constructed, will be double the height of the Statue of Liberty in the USA and five times taller than Brazilian attraction, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
No extra funds for MGNREGA, sanitation; allocations reduced for rural roads and housing programme
Author: Jitendra
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seems to have toed the line of his predecessor P Chidambaram while allocating budgets for rural development programmes. Rural job guarantee programme under MGNREGA, which was the flagship programme of the UPA regime, has received Rs 33,000 crore. Chidambaram had allocated the same amount in the 2013-14 budget, though it was later pruned to Rs 31,000 crore in the revised estimate in November last year. The only change introduced to the programme was that Jaitley emphasised on creation of more durable assets under MGNREGA.
Push for urban development through PPP and FDI
Author: Soma Basu
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech on Thursday stressed on the need for good civic amenities in urban areas. Jaitley increased the budgetary allocation for the Pooled Municipal Debt Obligation (PMDO) facility from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore for the next five years. PMDO, which was set up in 2006, encourages banks to finance infrastructure projects in urban areas on shared risk basis. Under the project, urban local bodies plan and implement public private partnership (PPP) projects.
Budget gives boost to solar powered agricultural pumps
Author: Ankur Paliwal
Highlighting new and renewable energy as the high priority sector, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley focused more on the big solar power projects in his budget speech, neglecting decentralized mini and micro grid solar projects for rural areas of the country. However, solar power agricultural pumps have been given a big boost in the budget. The BJP-led NDA government has taken up the Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects (UMSPPs) announced by the previous UPA government in Rajasthan, Gujarat,and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
Jaitley continues with UPA schemes on agriculture, allocates more funds
Author: Jyotika Sood
The maiden budget of finance minister Arun Jaitley is disappointing for farmers as it has nothing in its kitty to address the increasing farm stress and resolve the ongoing agrarian crisis in the country. The much-awaited budget of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) neither talks about assured farm income nor gives any remedy to reduce farm stress-two major poll planks during the party’s Lok Sabha campaign.
But solar manufacturers say customs, excise duty exemptions not enough to compete with China
Author: Ankur Paliwal
Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s proposal of customs and excise duty exemptions on various raw materials used in renewable energy products has brought some relief to the ailing domestic industry, especially domestic solar industry, which has long been demanding these exemptions. Though the difference in product cost may not be much, but the industry has welcomed the move as it will help them get closer to level playing field with international players.
Preventive and primary healthcare get a miss in the budget 2014
Author: Jyotsna Singh
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made umpteen announcements for the health sector, but almost all focused on medical education and increasing tertiary care facilities. Since preventive or primary healthcare found no mention in the first budget speech of the NDA government, free drugs and diagnostic facilities are the only ray of hope for people. "This is hardly different from the interim budget presented by the UPA in February. It does not show commitment towards primary healthcare," says Ravi Duggal, India country-coordinator, International Budget Partnership.
Economic cost of diseases caused by tobacco is 12 per cent more than the money spent by Centre and state together on healthcare in India, says a study
Author: Kundan Pandey
Accepting the recommendations made by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), finance Minister Arun Jaitley, on Thursday, increased the excise duty on cigarettes, pan masala and other tobacco products. Jaitley proposed to increase the specific excise duty on cigarettes in the range of 11 to 72 per cent. Similar increases were proposed on cigars, cheroots and cigarillos. The excise duty will be increased from 12 per cent to 16 per cent on pan masala, from 50 per cent to 55 per cent on unmanufactured tobacco and from 60 per cent to 70 per cent on gutkha and chewing tobacco.
Government sets aside Rs 100 crore to expedite detailed project reports for its controversial river-linking plan
Author: Soma Basu
In his maiden budget speech in Parliament today, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed to set up an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission, called Namami Gange, and allocated Rs 2,037 crore towards the mission. Jaitley said a substantial amount has been spent in the conservation and improvement of the Ganga but “the efforts have not yielded desired results because of the lack of concerted effort by all the stakeholders”.
Finance minister allocated Rs 100 crore to 28 programmes, but far less sum to schemes catering to the masses
Author: Kundan Pandey
While praising Narendra Modi in an orientation programme for new parliamentarians, veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani called him a rare cricket player who became the captain in his first match and scored triple centuries. This could have inspired finance minister Arun Jaitley to aim at many centuries in his maiden budget speech presented in Parliament on Thursday.
Money collected from the cess gets deposited in the National Clean Energy Fund but doubts remain over its usage
Author: Ankur Paliwal
The finance minister's proposal of doubling the coal cess which gets deposited in the corpus of National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) has been hailed by renewable energy experts. There is, however, uncertainty over its expenditure, they point. NCEF was introduced in the Union Budget 2010-11 for promoting clean energy initiatives in the country. A cess of Rs 50 per tonne was levied on dirty coal, which has now been increased to Rs 100 per tonne.
Narendra Modi's first budget may have many surprises contrary to popular expectations being raised in media
Author: Richard Mahapatra
The euphoria over the National Democratic Alliance's first budget is proportional to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election victory. On the other hand, his spectacular victory is also proportionate to the rejection of the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government. Between the preceding and the current government, the much talked about issue is that of reviving the economy. Naturally, the first budget is the occasion where the NDA government will make or is expected to make a statement. There are two distinct expectations, depending on which side one is: first, the growth brigade is positively positioned to expect a budget that fuels economic growth; second, the group that is inclined towards a welfare state is hesitantly hoping that the current government will retain the huge baggage of social spending initiated by the UPA.
The UPA government in its 10 years in power increased spending in social welfare sectors but not on agriculture, the backbone of rural economy
Author: Jitendra
The budget process in India, like in most other countries, comprises four distinct phases.
In the Union government, there is a budget division in the department of economic affairs under the Ministry of Finance. This division starts the process of formulation of the next financial year's Union budget in the months of August-September every year.
The first budget of India covered just 7-1/2 months, from August 15, 1947, to March 31, 1948. The main highlight of the first budget was the decision to pass the budget. Partition and the consequent destabilisation were the core factors that determined the budget provisions. The three major expenses in the budget were on food grain production, defence services and civil expenditure.
Check out the earlier budgets of NDA government under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Will the present BJP government strike a different note?
Budget highlights
    • Govt sets aside Rs 2,250 crore to improve weather infrastructure

    • Excise duty on tobacco products increased from 50 per cent to 55 per cent. This means cigarettes to become costlier

    • Added excise duty of 5 per cent on adding sugar. This means that soft drinks with high sugar will be more expensive

    • Biomedical waste disposal industry to be exempted from any taxation

    • Clean energy cess increased from Rs 50 per tonne of coal to Rs 100 per tonne. Good move

    • Custom duty on import of unhealthy palm oil reduced. Apart from being a health hazard, this also harms domestic oil industry, which includes healthy oils like mustard and coconut

    • The only surprise element of the budget is the overarching and overwhelming focus on PPP. For every provision there is a PPP provision. This ranges from agriculture warehouse to handicraft to housing. This makes the budget a loose document of intent without specifics. While govt. has declared its own allocation in hope of private investments, there is no articulation of how or from where private investments will come. With this, govt. has minimised its allocation but no concrete investment vision. That's why we have many alloctions that range from Rs 100 to Rs 200 crore. Many of the allocations range around Rs 50-100 crore. Contrast this with the Rs 200 crore allocation to a statue in Gujarat or Rs 100 crore to another statue in Delhi

    • To make Delhi a model city, FM proposes Rs 200 crore for power reforms in the national capital

    • Rs 500 crore for ultra modern #solar power projects in Rajasthan, TN, Ladakh and J&K. Renewables high priority, says Jaitley

    • Science and Technology: Will develop five institutions as technical centres through PPP, says FM

    • Around 22 per cent increase in plan expenditure compared to 2013-14 budget

    •  An agro-biotechnology cluster to be developed in PPP mode at National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali

    • Rs 100 crore allocated to develop Northeast as organic food hub

    • Rs 100 crore for taking up detailed project report of the river-linking project. It's revival time for inter-linking of rivers

    • Rs 100 cr set aside for development of Technology Development Fund: FM 

    • Mining: Changes in MMDR rules very soon. Royalty to be revised to give greater revenue to states

    • Financial inclusion: Two account holders in every household; universal financial inclusion by 2017. This is to provide access to formal credit facilities

    • PPP: FM uses a superlative for India--'world's largest PPP market'. The seeming focus of the budget is on public-private models. Starting from handicraft to agriculture to housing, govt. seeks private investments. Less allocation from govt

    • Mining: Changes in MMDR rules very soon. Royalty to be revised, to give greater revenue to the states

    • Budget on health focused on medical education and big hospitals. Jaitley forgot primary healthcare, NCDs or communicable diseases

    • Rs 200 crore has been allocated for Sardar Patel Statue or Statue of Unity for which there is still no EIA. Because of the statue, forest land will be submerged and tribal population that inhabits the land would be displaced

    • SEZs: Operationalise the SEZs and revive them. Use the unused lands already with them. No details on this. SEZs were started during the last NDA regime

    • Food inflation: Price stabilisation fund of Rs 500 crore. This is to fight food inflation. It is a much demanded fund that has been in practice in many countries

    • Climate change: Climate Adaptation Fund declared

    • The finance minister Arun Jailtley today announced Rs 7,060 crore for setting up 100 smart cities in the current fiscal. According to the minister, the cities would have state of the art facilities. The Centre has planned collaboration with Singapore for smart cities by improving IT in management of cities, use of new technology for sewage treatment, including solid waste management, energy use of urban planning norms. Smart cities concept followed in Singapore include smart concept for generating energy savings up to 30 per cent and reducing carbon emissions and Smart Energy Grids for electricity demand and supply to interact intelligently. Smart cities are expected to improve economic efficiency, provide better quality of life and promote sustainable urban development. The finance minister also said FDI would be invited to set up low cost affordable housing in the cities. For urban development, the finance minister set aside additional Rs 5,000 crore to address issues of solid waste management, drinking water and sewarage and better connectivity. He also invited industries to take up low cost housing for urban poor has been CSR activity

    • FM announces two flagship schemes in health: free drug service and free diagnostic service. No announcement regarding budget allocation

    • New AIIMS-like institutes proposed for West Bengal, Poorvanchal and Vidarbha

    • National Programme of Malnutrition within 6 months. It will look into all aspects including technology

    • Agriculture technology and modernisation: Rs. 100 crore for agri infrastructure fund. The focus seems to be on extension and further research projects. Govt. seeks private investment as wel

    • Housing for all by 2020: Tax incentives for those building affordable houses. Rs. 4,000 crore for national housing bank for urban poor. This was been a major campaign issue

    • Rs. 150 core for women safety in city areas and roads. This will come from the Nirbhaya Fund

    • Community radio: Rs. 100 crore for existing and new community stations to strengthen them. But no declaration on whether news will be allowed

    • Money left in PPF after death of an elderly to be used for betterment of other old people. #FM to set up a committee

    • 12 more government medical colleges to be set up

    • National ageing centres to be set up at AIIMS and Madras Christian College 

    • SC/ST welfare: Rs. 50,540 crore allocated for SC-ST sub-plans 

    • Van Bandhu Kalyan programme for tribal with Rs. 100 crore

    • Allocation for Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana decreased from Rs 22,000 crore to Rs 14,389 crore

    • RURBAN PROJECTS: Jaitley cites Gujarat 'model' to start a programme to get urban infrastructure into rural areas

    • Skill India programme introduced for building skills. This will include daily life skills--cobbler and carpenters. No details given. But it is a part of the Modi's skill building programme

    • Smart cities: This is meant for the neo-middle class. 100 cities as satellite cities to big cities. Rs 7,060 crore for the project. Seems too little an amount. Wait for further declaration under other heads

    • Smart cities for new middle class. FDI to help out. Limit reduced. This was one of the key promises of the Modi government during the election campaign. He promised 100 smart cities. 

    • Expendutre Management Commission to be set up to look at expenditure and rationalise subsides. Food and fuel and fertiliser subsidies to be reviewed. Will be targeted better. This means government may further strengthen the AADHAR and the other delivery mechanism. Wait for more declarations

    • 3.6% fiscal deficit target. This means a huge reduction in spending. A tough target given the volatility of situations like deficit monsoon and economic slowdown in economy.

    • FIRST BUDGET LIMITATION: Don't expect much from the first budget in just 48 days, says finance minister. It calls for tough decisions, but need to lift people above the poverty line. But without populism. He says that it has to be managed by high growth. This will be done through fiscal discipline and prudence. "We can't spend mindlessly and put the future at stake." Does this mean spending will be less? This may be the case as he says the last reduction in fiscal deficit is due to less expenditure. Bad news for social sector?

    • GLOBAL ECONOMY TO DECIDE RECOVERY AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION: The poor want to be the new middle class, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his opening remarks during his budget speech. It comes at a time when a new estimate of poverty has increased the number of poor by over 90 million. "We need to give them the opportunity," he adds. But economic recovery depends on the global economy recovery

    • If the Economic Survey is any indication of the contour of the budget, it going to focus more on job creation; but on "quality" jobs. Does this mean the focus on manual jobs/works like the ones MGNREGA creates are out of favour? Does this mean the budget will focus too much on manufacturing and other sectors that require skills? One speculated budgetary provision is on the National Skill Mission overhaul. It may be helped out with tax incentives for manufacturing units in a big way

    • The budget may declare incentives for hybrid vehicles. Automobile sector may get incentive for local manufacturing and research and development

    • Will the budget roll out a staggered phasing out of the Planning Commission? With just three years left for the 12th Plan to end, the government may not scrap it but may start turning it into a think tank with minimal staff. This staff will help out the proposed council of advisors to the Prime Minister

    • The NDA government will present its first budget in a while. The budget is preceded by finance minister Arun Jaitley's two tenets: 'avoid mindless populism' and 'fiscal discipline'

    • The budget has an unsettling prologue: a deficit monsoon, forecast of drought in elections-bound states and an economic slowdown. The Economic Survey presented yesterday has argued for strong fiscal discipline, which, if adhered to, means cut in spending. This makes the budget a challenge, particularly for a new government, to balance both growth and spending

    • In the interim budget approved in February by then outgoing UPA government, social spending was proposed at ₹5.55,322 crore. Given the overt use of the expression "fiscal discipline" by the finance minister, one may not expect more spending on this. But in a drought year this may be politically challenging decision

    • There may be a reshuffling of central schemes to retain the same rural development budget by re-allocating funds for key programmes like MGNREGA. Everyone is eagerly waiting to see how the NDA government deals with the programme. The budget will indicate how the new government approaches previous government's flagship programmes

    • The Food Security Act is another UPA flagship programme that the NDA has to deal with. It has already delayed its roll out by three months (till August). The budgetary allocation will indicate how it wants to implement the food law. BJP ruled states like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh opposed certain aspects of the law

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