The IMPRI Center for the Study of Finance and Economics (CSFE), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted an interactive panel discussion on the topic ‘New India’s Economic Transformation and Union Budget 2023-24’ on 6 February 2023, under the IMPRI 3rd Annual Series of Thematic Deliberations and Analysis of Union Budget 2023-24, as part of IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk.
The discussion was chaired by Prof Mukul Asher, who is a Former Professor, at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and Visiting Distinguished Professor, at IMPRI. To begin with, Prof Mukul Asher gave his holistic view on the analysis of the budget as he mentioned that the economic survey of 2023-24 and Union Budget 2023-24 are synchronized and in harmony.
Moving forward he said that India is one of the fastest-growing economies according to projections and the survey also bring about a huge mindset change by ensuring a shift from entitlement to empowerment. The third point he mentioned is the credibility of data in economic surveys that can be used by researchers for empirically driven conclusions rather than using generalities from a preconceived notions.
After the preliminary remarks of Prof Mukul Asher’s discussion was taken forward by Dr. Radhika Pandey, she focused on global growth being challenging due to monetary policy tight but the budget emphasis on growth by focusing on fiscal tools. Further, she mentioned twin growth boosters i.e. continued thrust on capital expenditure and moderation in personal income tax. Also Budget witnessed an overshoot in fiscal deficit and a steeper reduction in revenue deficit. The Union budget 2023-24 emphasized the rise in capital expenditure for infrastructural development in urban cities. She stressed various aspects of the economy that are detrimental to fiscal and revenue expenditure respectively.
The discussion was taken forward by Prof Prabir De, who took over the stage by presenting his personal views and said that the budget would boost the Indian economy by strengthening capital expenditure. Then he discussed positive results of the economy such as a reduction in fiscal deficit, with an increase in exports and capital expenditure, on the other hand, there has been severe budget deduction for the external sector. While concluding he discussed about risks associated with foreign countries such as the recession in advanced countries that will impact the current account deficit, then he mentioned about ill effects of the extension of Russian- Ukraine war and the requirement for the connection of infrastructure to global countries.
The next panelist Prof K Seeta Prabhu, who is Visiting Professor, at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; Visiting Faculty, at the Indian School of Development Management – ISDM , New Delhi discussed challenges being faced by Indian Economy that are inequality and unsustainability. Though the budget is aiming at the development of physical infrastructure that is the need of the hour but if social services infrastructure is neglected then there can be catastrophes like Covid-19. So, she stressed on the enhancement and empowerment of social infrastructure and the lack of development of social infrastructure is a pertinent issue because India is a middle-income country.
Then she discussed two aspects of the budget i.e. equity and sustainability for equity, the government has given allocations to neglected sections and for sustainability, we are aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 and adopt renewable energy.
Mr. V Ramakrishnan focussed on increasing the scale of manufacturing by increasing export and development of skills of people and discussed the transformation of India via clean power, sound circulation of water, and a skilled self-starting workforce and emphasized that the manufacturing sector in India lacks creativity and innovation. Then he mentioned the problems being faced by the power sector in India and the irony regarding the same is that India doesn’t match global standards for clean power. He discussed various essential requirements in relation to power and water and concluded by stressing budgetary support in regard to the same.
The next panelist, Prof A. Amarender Reddy, highlighted his views on schemes related to farmers but with the introduction of DBT ( Direct Benefit Transfer) we are losing the essence of the human touch at the grassroots level and spotlighted the need for digitalization but there should not be an overemphasis on technology and underemphasis on human resources in order to promote local interactions in the local ecosystem.
The digitalization of the agriculture sector will make the system more transparent and corruption free. Stressing upon the need to increase R&D expenditure in order to compete with international standards in terms of productivity will ensure doubling the income of farmers. The Union Budget 2023-24 has prioritized the fishery scheme, livestock, and dairy along with introducing the Shree Anna scheme to promote millets during the international millet year and Waste to Wealth mission. He concluded his remarks by stating that the crowding of the private sector will give rise to the creation of rural jobs and the development of rural youth.
After a Q&A session, the program was concluded with closing remarks by Prof Mukul Asher, who thanked and praised the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute team for hosting a successful panel discussion and ensuring the smooth functioning of the event.