Let us make the space we share better and bring the change we desire. Author is Indian Muslim, a Public Figure, Social Activist, Blogger and Media Personality. On mission to build a givers world rather than takers.
The Aam Aadmi Party feels that this budget is a missed opportunity. The budget failed to meet the expectations of an average citizen, who had voted the BJP to power with a comfortable majority. While we welcome steps announced to address the issue of black money stashed abroad, the government failed to show commitment to the cause by not putting a lid on Participatory Notes, through which tons of black money is being masked, round tripped and pushed into the Indian stock markets. A new law on the issue, promised the by Finance Minister in the budget today is still a welcome step. It’ll be interesting to see how soon government brings this law, passes it in Parliament, and how effectively this law is implemented.
While we welcome budget announcements of social schemes, but major cuts in social expenditure is a matter of serious concern. The Finance Minister has made huge spending cuts in the social sector in essential programs of the government, leaving the burden of spending on the states. For example, expenditure on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan has gone from 28,000 crores to 22,000 crores, the Integrated Child Development Scheme has gone from 16,000 crores to 8,000 crores and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme goes from 13,000 crores to 9,000 crores. There has also been a significant decrease in the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan allocation from Rs. 43,208 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore while that in the Tribal Sub Plan has gone down from Rs. 26,714 crore to Rs. 19,000 crore.
We are happy that several Aam Aadmi Party initiatives, ideas and proposals from Delhi Dialogue have made it to the Union Budget in some form. This includes devolution of more funds to states, Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Scheme which mirrors AAP’s Higher Education Guarantee Scheme and the commitment to setup “Plug ’n’ Play” incubator spaces for startups, and 6 crore toilets across the country. We welcome these announcements.
Finance Minister’s decision to put the GST on the back burner is disappointing. Even more disappointing is the fact that the Finance Minister trashed the Direct Tax Code, killing hopes of structural tax reforms and simplifying tax regime. There were minor exemptions for the middle class but no rationalization or simplification of the tax regime. Though the FM has gone out of his way to appease the corporate sector with several major cuts and exemptions. The fundamental nature of taxation is still regressive and is being furthered by decrease in direct taxation and increase in indirect taxation, which hits the Aam Aadmi.
The Aam Aadmi Party welcomes Rs 1000 crore allocation to the Nirbhaya fund but the government has not bothered to check that money earmarked for Nirbhaya Fund in the last budget has been lying vacant. The PMO itself stopped the directive to create one-stop crisis centers for women.
Government’s decision to promote PPPs as the sovereign and to take a majority of the risks is baffling and raises suspicion that it could be a ploy to benefit crony capitalism.
India is at number 142 on “ease of doing business” scale. The Prime Minister had promised that very soon India will be at number 50 on this scale, but the budget doesn’t reflect that. Instead of announcing concrete steps in this direction, the Finance Minister announced yet another committee to look into the issue.
AAP Media Cell