Numbers That Count: An Assessment of the Union Budgets of NDA II -CBGA
-Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA)
The Interim Union Budget 2019-20, the last budget presented by the incumbent government, comes at a time when the economy is beset with myriad problems. Among the various challenges facing the economy, perhaps the most critical are those related to the acute agrarian distress, burgeoning unemployment and slowing down of the economy. While it is true that many of these problems began prior to 2014 (i.e. even before this government came to power), several of these problems seem to have got aggravated over the last few years.
Over the last five years, the government made a number of promises ranging from providing 2 crore jobs per year to doubling farm income. However, as numerous analysts have noted, many of the promises made not just remain unfulfilled, in several areas the situation seems to have deteriorated further.
While a number of initiatives have been taken to address some of the challenges (such as increased Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers, even though not to the extent promised), these have not necessarily been backed by adequate allocation. A striking feature of this government has been that it has stuck to its path of fiscal consolidation rather diligently. This is evident in the declining expenditure to GDP ratio, which fell from 14.4 per cent in Budget Estimate (BE) 2014-15 to 12.77 per cent in 2019-20 (BE). The declining expenditure-GDP ratio has had its consequences on overall social sector allocations, reflected in the budgets of the previous few years.
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