Budget '13: Parrikar navigates challenges

By Prabhakar Timble
18 March 2013 21:27 IST

For an economist, a budget is an annual estimated income and expenditure statement of the government. For the Finance Minister who rises up to present it before the Assembly, it is just not a mere financial plan. Mr. Manohar Parrikar made the best of this opportunity to nourish local sentiments and emotions. He carved a name in the hearts of Goans by delivering the budget speech in Konkani indirectly baffling the critics of his policy to provide grants to primary schools in the English medium. Not that the language matters to finance or exerts any influence on revenue and spending. He further stumped their wicket by announcing very sizeable grants to Konkani Academy, Konkani Bhavan, Konkani Bhasha Mandal, new primary and pre-primary schools in regional medium, making provision for posts of translators in all government offices and also offered a new cosmetic to beautify all official boards including private establishments in regional language. The olive branch of an Advisory Council to deliberate on the controversial issue of grants to primary school is also kept dangling. It was a budget presented in Konkani making it intelligible to all the households who viewed it live on the local channels. This budget is favourable for the Konkani language in terms of allocations. Let us see if it turns out the same for the Konkani people. Before the protagonists of Marathi are up in arms, let me hasten to add that by Konkani people, I mean the local population i.e. Goans.

Hard times motivate hard thinking and what any government should have done much earlier is proposed now to improve the productivity of taxes and levies. It is a good sign that the finance minister has not increased tax rates or the taxed items. The focus seems to be on realising additional revenue through better tax effort and administration. The establishment of an anti-evasion bureau is welcome provided this agency works with estimates of leakages and targets for collection. There is a marginal rise of duty on IMFL and in terms of cess on products using non-biodegradable materials. The hike in TDS under VAT for contractors would provide assured revenue. It is also worthy that the finance minister has decided to expand the base of taxpayers through registration of all traders including casual traders. I also give credit for announcing a one-time settlement scheme for collection of taxes on disputed amounts. It is better to bring the monies on the table rather than keep the bureaucracy locked in endless litigation. The newly tapped area is the infrastructure tax graded depending on the economic activity and pressure on public services in the coastal panchayat areas, five major towns and the villages adjoining these major towns.

On the expenditure side what stand out are the provisions made for Tribal Welfare, School Education and Health. I think the outlays which were earlier scattered with different departments for scheduled tribes are now brought under the tribal welfare department. Self-employment through skill development programmes is also a thrust area. Neturlim in Sanguem taluka is chosen to be developed as a model village. Let us watch this experiment and hope that it will result in the occupational empowerment of the local stakeholders rather than colonisation by outside investors.

I expected a bigger thrust on agriculture and horticulture with major initiatives for exploitation and utilisation of idle land resources. What I could discern is a mention of restoration of fields in mining belts. Tourism expected a bigger deal in terms of specific projects to encourage rural and hinterland areas. The additional FAR announced for hotels could be a boon for specific hotels rather than the industry as a whole. The industry and chambers of commerce may have to wait for the investment policy to be announced in May. Along with this, the Chief Minister also needs to take forward the land acquisition policy which was a promise in the budget of the last year.

I find no issues with the projected growth of 12% in GSDP. The worry is of fiscal deficit which escalated to double of what was estimated for 2012-13. I expected VAT on petrol this time since the people were in a mood to accept such a levy considering the revenue loss on account of closure of mining and limited options on account of forced recession before Mr. Parrikar who still continues to be their idol. Any finance minister would have jumped for this opportunity.

On the whole, I would award a grade of six on a ranking of 0-10 to the Finance Minister. I will not hesitate to revise this to eight provided the finance minister reforms the Laadli Laximi Scheme, making it prospective and providing support to the girl child from the age of 1-21 in a phased manner. Otherwise, the scheme, even though it is delinked from marriage from this financial year, it does not have a nexus with any social or demographic objective to be achieved. Similarly, the objective sought to be achieved under the Griha Adhar Scheme is beyond my comprehension. As per the estimates we will have around 1.75 lakh housewives obtaining this dole from the government by the end of this financial year. This makes women and families passive and obedient. The social costs of this are unhealthy, political loyalty at public cost apart.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Sir, finally some expert opinion on budget by you, thanks. even before budget bhajani mandal started advertising what a great budget. now i dont blame them its just bjp party office boys at panaji who get paid to do this job. i have certain questions please explain. cm's budget speech shows 1) growth in bjp govt fell down from 10.63 to 8.30 because parrikar became cm then how will go to 12?, 2) total budget is 9549 crores, is it correct 4154 crores out of which is has come from planning commission delhi? 3) how can deficit be only 755 crores when mining revenue loss itself is 800 crores, will it not be 1555 crores alone on this count alone?, 4) there seems to be 3 types of schemes a) maximum central govt schemes, b) second highest is previous govt schemes and c) minimum already declared schemes. Parrikar is trying to give impression that he has given all this schemes to goa even NAREGA and Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission of Central Govt JNURRM. Is it not talking lies to public? 5) 6 lane zuari bridges is not same as kamat govts zuari bridge as if he had done it, just like not inviting congress to south goa collectorate function?, 6) what are the exact income and liabilities of the Govt since parrikar is hiding it in budget speech? 7) Where is the profit and loss and income and expenditure statement in the whole budget speech?

I have no liking for congress but for past 1 year i find parrikar to untrustworthy so please explain the above.

- shiv , aldona | 19 th March 2013 21:14


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