New Delhi: The optimism exuded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his election campaign is sorely missing in the Economic Survey that is normally seen as a preview to what to expect in the Union Budget.
The only real positive in the survey is the upward tick to growth from the sub 5 per cent last year to between 5.4 and 5.9 per cent.
This however is predicated on various steps that the government has to take like reforms in the tax system, keeping inflation low through fiscal consolidation, improving the business environment, taking quick decisions in freeing up infrastructure projects that have been held up to bring investment, freeing the farmers to sell their products to anyone domestically or globally, change the fundamental thinking from subsidies to empowering the farmers and the poor by giving them employment and purchasing power, revamping the various social sector schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme etc.
These are the usual suggestions in almost every Economic Survey and even the quarterly survey of macro-economic developments brought out by the Reserve Bank of India. There is really no new thinking in the recommendations.
Whilst talking of the need to change the subsidy regime applicable to the poor there is not a word of the Rs 5.2 lakh crores given as so-called incentives that are really subsides given to the corporate sector and the better off.
This Rs 5.2 lakh crore is really precious, badly needed revenue foregone by the government.
The bulk of this goes to the corporate sector (19.1 per cent), in excise concessions (134.3 per cent) and customs concessions (158.63 per cent).
It is the well off sections that enjoy all these at the cost of the exchequer, particularly the social sector.
One hopes that Union finance minister Arun Jaitley will have more lustre in his Budget and a refreshing dose of out-of-the box thinking, a big dose of hope and positivity.