Economy Mar 17, 2012
The verdict is in on Pranab Mukherjee's budget on Friday, and it's not good. A round-up of the reactions:
Economist Surjit S Bhalla says that Budget 2012 is perhaps the second worst budget of all time. "Only Indira Gandhi's 1970-71 budget which raised marginal taxes to 97per cent comes close to yesterday's effort."
The reasons for this damning assessment? Bhalla points out that for all the near-unanimous expectations that Mukherjee would outline a broader vision for the economy, the Budget is a disappointment. "All his policy recommendations had more to do with tinkering than with any sense of vision."
And Bhalla reckons that Mukherjee may have made himself the first casualty of this budget. "It is likely that the finance minister will now find his political ability, his master tactician image and economic sagacity to be brought into open question."
Tracing accountability for the years of broken promises on second-generation reforms at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's doorstep, Bhalla suggests it's time for the PM to go and for mid-term elections to be held.
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Writing in Mint, Anil Padmanabhan has a similar searing indictment:
"Pranab Mukherjee's seventh Union budget is neither tepid nor insipid; reflecting the mindset of the 1970s, it is dangerously inflationary and conceals its sting in fine print, some of which may go against the letter and spirit of economic reforms that popularized the India story with foreign investors."
He then makes a broader point about the UPA's mismanagement of the economy.
"It is clear that the UPA has all but blown its last chance. Not only has it missed out on a second chance to launch a recovery, it may have actually worsened the country's macroeconomic prospects.
In the Hindustan Times, Gautam Chikermane sees Budget 2012 as a reversal of reforms.
"It looks as if Mukherjee has one leg in 1982, when he presented his first budget; his second leg in 2012, when the UPA coalition is running from crisis to crisis; and his mind in 2014, the year of the next general elections.Between the three, he has chosen the familiar walk to the past."
An editorial in Business Standard sees Budget 2012 as having achieved about half of what it set out to do.
"The finance minister needed to do three things in the Budget: control the deficit, bring down inflation, and create the conditions for faster economic growth. He can be said to have succeeded substantially, but not wholly. The unfinished task is that the deficit has been left too high, as also market borrowings which go up next year."
And The Hindu editorialises that the Budget 2012 is flying in "on a wing and a prayer."
"The Union budget for 2012-13 seeks to address two primary concerns - the economic slowdown and the unsatisfactory state of government finances - but the means it employs are so cautious, and even contradictory, that the chances of success appear slim."
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