Proving the nay-sayers wrong, the Finance Minister presented the Union Budget 2017-18 on 1st February – as promised by the PM to the nation. This budget had aroused special interest among many for various reasons. First and foremost, it was being presented on the backdrop of demonetization. The Assembly elections in five states had provided the necessary fuel for speculation about the budget. And on top of everything else, the PM’s address to the nation on the eve of the new year, was taken by many as a little short of the budget speech.
The Union Budget 2017-18 was projected to be distinctive due to a few changes in the budgetary processes – with a stated broad objective of improving the public expenditure management in the country. How far the budget will succeed in doing that remains to be seen, but one thing is very clear – the present dispensation is firmly holding on to the promise of Fiscal Conservatism made under the FRBM Act.
Many tall claims were made, and not so unexpected, by the FM in the Budget Speech. The FM’s speech sent a feel-good message to the demonetization-torn common people – through announcements of increased spending on rural development, agriculture and NREGA, with some relief to income-tax payers in the lower income brackets and MSMEs.
The real question, however, is whether this budget made any substantial departure from its earlier versions – or the departure is only rhetorical and not real! A careful reading of the FM’s Budget Speech and budget documents leaves one with more questions than answers.
In this issue of NCAS interface we attempt to capture the changes in budgetary procedures and also discuss the possible impacts they would cause along with a brief account of composition allocations of allocations made to various sectors of the economy.
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