Identifying Current Account Deficit (CAD) as his ‘greatest worry’, the Finance Minister while presenting the 2013 Union Budget has pointed his fingers at passion for gold, oil imports, reduction in imports etc. as the principal reasons for the crisis of CAD. But he had no road map to present which will address the challenges faced by Indian economy by creating domestic opportunities. Instead he states frankly, “India, at the present juncture, does not have the choice between welcoming and spurning foreign investment….foreign investment is an imperative.” Therefore, the crux of the budget presented by Shri P. Chidambaram is that foreign investment is the only solution for all the problems faced by the Indian economy today. This is also the best exhibition of lack of faith the UPA and its Finance Minister have in the strength of the entrepreneurship of the people of India, particularly youth.

 

The Current Account Deficit (CAD) is definitely a serious crisis. But to blame the ‘passion for gold’ or ‘excessive dependence on oil imports’ instead of the government’s weak economic policies for the CAD crisis, it seems that the government is in an illogical hurry and asserts that he is not interested in finding long term solutions. The government should instead have worked on reducing the imports of manufactured goods, which could have been manufactured in India. The import of just one commodity like telecom equipments in the year 2011-2012 is around Rs.53290 crores. These equipments are imported mostly from countries like China. Both government and TRAI have talked about policy measures to change the scenario for a long time, by promoting manufacturing in India. But the budget doesnot indicate any step that would translate the talk to reality.

 

Traditionally Indians, particularly women, consider gold as one of the most reliable and secure avenue for investment and avenues like stocks etc as highly speculative and hence non-dependable. In the name of curbing the CAD crisis, the Finance Minister appeals to the people to invest their hard earned savings into risky avenues like mutual funds, stocks etc controlled by private players instead of gold, which may finally lead to an economic collapse like of the US.

 

Unfortunately, world over in the last 2-3 years, India is a subject of discussion not only for aspects that are sustaining us, but also for the corruption of gigantic scales. In his Union Budget presentation, the Finance Minister has not even expressed a single word of concern about corruption, despite of a multitude of scams being unfolded in the UPA regime. He does not discuss anything for improving the transparency, accountability and efficiency of the delivery system which are the crucial factors that will create an investor friendly atmosphere and thereby drive our growth engine.

 

Continuing his spree on attacking the spirit of middle class, the Finance Minister has taken the step of increasing the service tax in AC restaurants and thereby making eating out costlier.

 

Not alone leaving the middle class, the Finance Minister also demonstrated his indifference to the differently disabled class as well. He could only manage Rs.52 per each differently abled person per year. He has allotted a mere a sum of Rs.110 crore to the Department of Disability Affairs for its ADIP Scheme which caters to around 2.5 crore differently abled people. One will be able to understand the gravity of neglect when comparing it to fairer allocations for other weaker sections. Rs. 41,561 crore has been allocated to the Scheduled Caste sub plan, Rs.24,598 crore to the Tribal sub plan and Rs.3511 crore to the Minority Affairs. The large population of differently abled should also receive better treatment.

 

In the backdrop of increased violence against women and the high level of protest registered by the people of the country, the government has come up with two initiatives focusing on women. The exclusive bank for women can be a good beginning towards promotion of women entrepreneurship and thereby opening a new chapter in the process of empowerment of our society. But the Finance Minister should not have waited for similar uprisings from weaker sections like artisans. On the similar lines, there should have been a Vishwakarma bank focusing on unorganized specialized sectors like artisans, craftsmen etc.

 

It is a pathetic situation when the Finance Ministry of the country curses its entrepreneurs stating “Too many of them (MSMEs) do not grow because of the fear of losing the benefits associated with staying small or medium.” Instead of addressing the issues faced by thousands of these MSMEs, which the Finance Minister himself accepts as great employment generators and prevent them from dying out before ‘growing beyond small and medium’, he has triviliazed the sector by offering a few benefits to a very small number of industry units which may grow beyond the MSME sector.

 

Agriculture sector continues to be neglected even in the tenth UPA budget. According to Shri P. Chidambaram, the driver of the moderate growth in agriculture is credit. This is not only a complete negation of the multiple efforts of the NDA ruled states which have achieved double digit growth rates in agriculture but also is an attempt to mislead the nation. BJP ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat etc. has such a commendable growth rate in agriculture due to measures taken in developing agriculture infrastructure, especially for irrigation. But the Union budget misses this aspect completely and has offered nothing to develop agri infrastructure which will lead to sustainable development in agriculture sector.

 

Handloom, another significant sector, which accounts to employment for millions of people, has also been neglected. A meagre 96 crore was added in the budget for handloom sector, for interest subvention. There are no concrete plans for reviving the sector and no adequate support for millions of handloom workers.

 

The budget is nothing but a small time investment by the UPA, by putting the larger interests of the nation at stake, just to gain a few electoral benefits by misleading the people in the name of foreign investment.