Guest post by SHAMBHU GHATAK
“You can fool some people some times but you can’t fool all the people all the time”
So goes one of the famous lines of Bob Marley’s song that draws upon statement by Lincoln. Perhaps the same can be said about the new BJP government because it seems that this time there will be nothing new left to be presented during the upcoming Union Budget. Most of the things to be presented by the Finance Minister have gradually been placed even before the actual budget could see the light of the day (on 10 July). In fact, the entire stretch since the Government took power can be termed as a long, extended budget session – a session in slow motion.
Just think about the policy decisions announced or showcased by the new Government so far—allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence sector (to boost technology transfer and employment growth, so to speak); reforming environmental clearance (to avoid discrepancies, end red-tapism and ensure transparency) by making the process online; raising import duties on sugar by more than double and extension of existing sugar export subsidy of Rs 3,300 per tonne (to help the sugar mills) till September besides raising the mandatory level for blending cane-based ethanol in petrol from 5% to 10%; allowing hike in price of non-subsidized cooking gas (LPG) by Rs 16.50 per cylinder (which is partly attributed to the crisis situation in Iraq); and raising train fares by 14.2% & freight rates by 6.5% in the month of June prior to the just-presented Rail Budget, among other things. Continue reading An Endless Budget Session, Even Before it Begins: Shambhu Ghatak