ETMGS 2021: Lend a hand to needy, avoid useless stimulus in Budget 2021

ETMGS 2021: Lend a hand to needy, avoid useless stimulus in Budget 2021

MUMBAI: Expectations from the Union Budget for 2021-22 are running high as investors and citizens begin the countdown to February 1. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has promised a ‘never before seen’ Budget, triggering much anticipation.

At the fourth edition of the
ETMarkets Global Summit 2021, some of India’s top economists laid down their wish list from the forthcoming Budget. The virtual event, which kicked off on Wednesday on, runs through January 22.

They suggested that the government turn its focus more on targeted spending with social security measures on the top of the agenda, but cautioned against useless stimulus and advocated for creating a vibrant environment for the private sector to thrive in.

Sonal Verma, Managing Director and Chief Economist, Nomura Holdings
Verma said the government’s aim should be to look at more targeted spending and more, crucially, front-loading of the spending for the financial year. She said the financial sector will require attention, either through a bad bank or bank recapitalisation. She said the Budget should create an environment that makes the domestic sector competitive, and put more focus on execution of infrastructure projects.

Rathin Roy, Managing Director – Research and Policy at Overseas Development Institute
Roy said the government has a great opportunity to simplify the tax structures in the country and ‘make it simple’. He urged the government to come up with a medium-term strategy for monetising a plethora of government’s assets. On spending, Roy said the government will do well to understand that the fiscal situation is weak.

Sangita Reddy, Joint MD, Apollo Hospitals
For Reddy, the chief focus for the Budget should be on promotion of social spending in areas like healthcare and education. She advocated income support for those at the bottom of the pyramid and those who suffered the most due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She argued that the need for broadbased support to spur consumer demand is less, stressed the need to enhance allocation to healthcare and education.

Pranjul Bhandari, Chief India Economist, HSBC
Bhandari argued that while the government should try to bring down the fiscal deficit, but should not do so sharply. She said the government should avoid the pitfalls of “useless fiscal profligacy” but should not cut back on social spending at this juncture. Bhandari hoped that the government would focus on capital formation and on creating an environment of certainty around taxation.

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