Bangalore International Centre had organised Panel Discussion on the Union Budget 2013-14 on Thursday, 28th February 2013 at 6:00 pm. The Panellists were Dr. A Ravindra, Adviser to Hon’ble Chief Minister, Govt. of Karnataka; Mr. S. Krishnaswamy, Senior Chartered Accountant; Dr. Narendar Pani, Professor, School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies; Prof. S.L. Rao, Former Director-General of National Council of Applied Economic Research moderated the discussion.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Rao stressed the point that there were great expectations from the budget in view of the critical juncture in which the Indian economy was currently placed, which remained unfulfilled.
Dr. Narendar Pani, in his lucid presentation highlighted the over-all macro-economic picture in the background of the World economy and echoed the opinion of Prof. Rao that budget did not really push the reform process enough to achieve the targeted 8% growth rate, as projected by the Finance Minister. H however commended the effort to contain the fiscal deficit and to reduce it further.
Dr. Ravindra who dealt with the infrastructure sector lamented the fact that the budget did not provide a thrust to this area which could trigger both growth and equitable development. He felt that taking into account the rapid process of urbanisation, more funds should have been allocated under JNURM.
Mr. S Krishnaswamy warned against the tendency of the people in general to consider budget as the only instrument of the policy of economic and social growth and pointed out that the constitutional mandate of the budget was to provide all the required statements of income and expenditure to the legislature which alone had the authority to sanction and authorise such income and expenditure by the executive from the Consolidated Fund. He also explained in this context the concepts of fiscal deficit and current account deficit and their over-all impact n governance.
All the panellists agreed that the largely unspectacular budget was pragmatic and had probably helped the further downgrading of Indian economy by international rating agencies. All of them also stressed that the real devil was in the implementation of several projects and proposals in the pipeline.
During the interactive session, several members opined that one need not be too pessimistic about the future of Indian economy and that, considering the stresses and pressures of the process of decision-making and implementation in a fairly volatile federal democracy, the country was not doing too badly.