Tall promise of providing farm credit at 7% in last year’s Budget stayed a pipe-dream, writes Narendra Modi
The Union Budget for 2007-08, including the Railway Budget, has failed miserably in providing the necessary impact for growth initiatives to the economy.
It is often stated that India lives in villages. More than 60% of the common man earns their livelihood in rural India, but their share in the nation’s GDP is less than 20%. Therefore, the first and foremost task for the Union finance minister should have been to suggest measures for improving agriculture productivity for food grains, pulses and oil-seeds; so as to raise the farm income by introducing better irrigation system like drip and sprinkler irrigation, introduction of bio-technology, application of better farm techniques, including better seeds and organic farming. However, this Budget has failed to address these vital issues effectively, as the provisions suggested are more of token nature and insufficient to meet the country’s demand.
The Indian agriculture sector is facing a serious crisis. As per the Economic Survey, growth in agriculture sector during 10th Plan will be only 2.3%, against the target of 4%. The tall promise of providing farm credit at 7% in last year’s Budget has remained a pipe-dream. This is proved by the fact that there have been more than 10,000 suicides by farmers in the last few years. What is more painful to note is that many of the suicides have taken place in more developed states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In the last few years of the UPA regime, farmers have suffered the most.
The second priority for the economy, according to me, is to ensure growth without inflation or growth without tears for the common man. The NDA government had taken the economy on take-off stage, without high inflation. However, under the UPA government, the overall growth target of 10th Plan of achieving 8% of GDP is unlikely to be achieved by the country. On the other hand, due to various wrong policies of the UPA government, the monster of inflation is raising its head, with inflation rate surging to more than 6 to 7%, affecting the lives of the common man.
The Central Budget has claimed higher resource mobilisation through service tax, excise and customs. However, these three taxes are either directly or indirectly passed on to the common man. The finance minister has given tax reduction for ‘‘cat and dog pet-food’’ by lowering custom duty from 30% to 20%. However, he has not shown any compassion for the common man and his articles of daily necessities.
MAT has been extended to companies, availing benefits under S.10A & 10B of the I-T Act for Infrastructure projects, which will be counter-productive for infrastructure development. While providing special funds for history and culture on 150th year of Independence, Sardar Patel’s contribution is forgotten, which is regrettable.
Our third top-most priority is to build excellent infrastructure in terms of power, road, port, air-port, railway, irrigation, etc. The golden quadrilateral road project was started by the NDA government and it was to be completed in 2003, but under the UPA government, it is still incomplete. Similarly, the east-west, north-south corridor road project is way behind its target, because of poor monitoring under the UPA government. In the power sector, the performance of the UPA government in the last few years has been very dismal in terms of achieving targets for generation of thermal, hydro and atomic power, because of which the country faces huge short-fall of peak load power.
In the sector of port development, instead of encouraging mari-time States, like Gujarat, to undertake nation building activity, through port connectivity, the railways have shown utter neglect in providing railway linkage. Thus, the UPA government has missed the bus in taking a major leap forward in the infrastructure sector, which could have provided a solid base for rapid growth in the first decade of 21st century.
—The writer is chief minister of Gujarat