Mukesh Ambani: Kudos to Pranab Mukherji

Presenting a broadly acceptable Budget for a country of India’s size and complexities is always a formidable task. It is especially so in such difficult and uncertain times as we are passing through these days, when the entire economy and polity are so severely buffeted by clashing sectional and sectoral demands. The Finance Minister, therefore, deserves kudos for coming out with a handsome Budget in such times. He has handled the contrary demands he faced with a deftness that can come only from long experience in public life and government.

I am sure it will be widely acknowledged that he has manoeuvred his way out of the difficult times with great adroitness. He has contained fiscal deficit to the extent feasible and that too without curtailing growth. He has given concessions where required, raised allocations for the poor, especially the rural poor, besides offering much required relief to tax-payers that should sustain demand for consumer goods in the economy.

Some duties have, of course, been raised and these will, no doubt, add to some pressure on prices. These increases were, however, largely expected, and the manufacturers and consumers had taken them into account. I think that the roll-back of incentives, talked about for so long, has been kept within bearable limits.

Social stability
As in the last Budget, the Finance Minister has once again focussed his attention on reaching the poorest of the poor. That is where the benefits of all national efforts towards boosting growth must be directed. India must begin to rise from deep below — from where all growth will ultimately come.

Also, it is only by adopting an inclusive growth paradigm that orderly and sustainable economic progress and social and political stability can be attained. If growth and its benefits do not reach the bottom, everything we have attained so far will be jeopardised. The increase in allocations for these sections and the improvements envisaged in delivering the benefits to them are, therefore, especially welcome.

Farm focus
The renewed and increased emphasis on raising agricultural production and providing incentives for food storage and processing are other very important points. As we have seen, the last two years’ inflationary pressures have largely, almost solely, been the outcome of scarcity of agricultural commodities.

It is the most urgent need of the times not only to arrest negative growth in agriculture but reverse the falling trend and boost production of all commodities, including oil-seeds. The increase in allocations for this area is highly commendable. In addition, this calls for some very innovative measures all along the base and frontiers of agriculture.

Overall, I am sure Mr Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget will put India on a path that will lead to achieving the targets he has set for the country for 2010-2011 and beyond. It is a handsome and inclusive Budget which will propel the country’s ambition of fulfilling the dreams of a billion-plus population.



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