Being the most keenly anticipated time of the year, the Budget plays a decisive role in mapping the road of the following fiscal year of the country. Taking a rather amateur-ish stance we all have certain expectations and suggestions for the Budget. With due respect to the Budget ,to be presented by the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, and without much adieu let me enunciate my wish list.
India, with its current GDP growth rate, should continue to focus on sustained economic growth. However, policy measures to reduce income and sectoral inequalities should be adopted to justify the growth rates. Besides, human development indices should be used as a measure of development in the state. The financial allocation for the health sector as a percentage of GDP should be increased from the current 5%. The funds thus appropriated should be utilized for reducing the incidence of malnutrition, mortality and communicable diseases (which result from poor sanitation and environment conditions) and improved maternal and old age care. Greater resources should be allocated for research and development in the health sector. Also, mandatory health insurance for all citizens will cover the greater medical costs due to expensive treatment. An alternative to insurance cover can be the setting up of non profit organizations that link up with the hospitals to provide minimum cost treatments and subsidies as per the family per capita income.
Apart from the health sector, in the field of education, the government must ensure a minimum number of schooling facilities within a radius of 5 kilometers to improve school enrolment numbers. However, minimum teaching quality standards must be maintained. There should be a greater number of vocational set ups throughout the country for the development of a minimum number of subsistence skills amongst the uneducated, physically and/or mentally handicapped population. In the same line of thought, provisions for setting up cooperatives and/or self help groups at the village level should be made to promote self sufficiency and employment prospects during the lean season. Thus, employment opportunities will be augmented.
In terms of climate change, greater emphasis should be laid on developing pollution-free alternative sources of energy. Organizations undertaking such research and development should be appropriately funded. Besides, higher taxes on exhaustive resources will help in controlling their rates of use. Government should undertake privatization of underperforming units besides improving the investment environment in the country. However, a certain degree of protection can be employed to protect domestic industries. Existing infrastructural facilities such as roads, transportation, and communications should be improved and finances allocated appropriately. 100% subsidies for farmers should be done away with. Electricity and water should be subsidized but with nominal charges. Besides, a greater number of rural financial facilities with flexible credit system must be set up. The tourism sector should be developed further and used to finance the government exchequer and/or local economic development. Medical tourism should also be promoted.
In conclusion, the above mentioned suggestions will not bear fruit till they are effectively implemented by the government. However, a cost benefit analysis of the policies will prove helpful and ensure a successful financial year with balanced growth and development.
Source: WHO Statistics.
The Economic Times.