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Focus on agriculture and human resources Policy Makers Much can be done by us A gratifying record Strategic planning the missing link Two welcome measures from the chief minister... Miles to go... Research for survival... South India’s 100 most valuable companies INDIA keeps its date with destiny A dual GST that will protect prosperous states Focus on southern TN... Indian GST – Between extremes… The deluge and the several kindly souls Weaving wealth of western Tamil Nadu Star of the South Healthy finances of the Chennai Corporation 1800 parties registered with EC – Less than 60 contest elections It’s raining funds for states. Really? Tryst with GST Reform this licence to…kill The Great Fall Sowing seeds of hope Land, land everywhere, but... Industry can’t get it from Mars, yet If not Tamil Nadu, where else? Well-administered State Wanted: decentralised financial system A historic indirect tax reform A tale of two Bihar babus No groundnuts in groundnut oil! Truce at Kasturi Buildings Jobs - Lost, Changed or Gained When the examiner cheated... Sustainably developing manufacturing sector… What the big B should offer? Sardar Sarovar – the seventy year itch Low profile moves Tax evaders’ get out of Jail-Free Card Much ado about nothing Skewed Economic Zones? BJP can now hasten its thrust for reforms Oh my GOLD Kudos to GIM organisers... A blueprint for the future Outward ho You too T M Krishna? Ganesh’s mantras Pool energy prices Babes In the wood-RBI North block has little clue to curb inflation TN - so much to offer... PC please be our Santa Why throw baby with bath water? Trail-blazing Tamil Nadu Need plan over the long term planning Babes In the wood-RBI North block has little clue to curb inflation Cleansing Indian retail Welcome rains for damaged roads... After all, customer is the king Economy through the month An eco-friendly commute in Mysuru Make way for Make in India... Better relations with UK... Technology and economic development should be linked Welcome move to widen the tax net… CAD and the emergency thereof Why (not) abolish? MS Installed Welcome Measures. Work for 10X Change In the horns of a dilemma Rail-road Rajaraman Public investments and welfare will surge Deming awardees galore! An eventful week with VVIPs of Delhi Chennai Airport-Ready for a rapid take off... Breaking news or breaking credibility? They add lustre to Padma Awards A Fine division of responsibilities Little surplus after salaries, subsidies and debt servicing Need for radical RBI reform How will it PAN OUT CSR, tech revolution and bank crisis
 
What the big B should offer?
The Indian economy is at the crossroads. It is awaiting tough fiscal policy response from the finance minister, which would be painful in the short-term, but would invoke the confidence of all stakeholders in the future of Indian economy.
FINANCE MINISTER CHIDAMBARAM is being overwhelmed with multiple challenges as he gets ready to formulate Budget 2013-14 – reviving growth, containing inflation, reducing trade gap and current account deficit, removing stumbling blocks in infrastructure development, rejuvenating investment outlook, targeting poverty reduction, covering deficits in social sector performance, strengthening financial sector and what not. To cap it all there is a threat of downgrading from the international credit rating agencies.   

Of course, such challenges tend to become ritualistic in nature, especially there have been when two or three crucial years of policy paralysis; and also in the wake of persistent hostile global economic environment. Perhaps never before was there such a constellation of formidable issues.

Effectively, Budget 2013-14 happens to be the chance for the UPA II government before the next general election in early 2014. It has an uphill task to prove its commitment to the implementation of pending reforms agenda; revitalise ‘animal spirit’ of investors; and ‘go for growth.’ Or in the usual quest for populism around this time, there would be the temptation to indulge in aggressive ‘social-welfare’ spending. In the long run such a strategy would be unsustainable and there would not be any political dividend to reap.

On the contrary, it is high time for the UPA II government to unveil its political maturity and sagacity through bold policy reforms. It is time to bite the bullet and administer the needed ‘bitter medicine.’ That’s the only way to restore the confidence of stakeholders in the future of our economy. 

Here’s my wish list.

First, putting the fiscal house in order. There can be no further fiscal drift. The likely revised estimate of fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 5.5 per cent in 2012-13 needs to be reduced to 4.5 per cent or even lower in 2013-14, and to 3 per cent thereafter by 2015-16. There must be a visible action plan. There is the need for a regular tracking of this target with month-on-month performance review of key budgetary data. It is also necessary to formulate monthly cash-flow system of budgetary accounting under major heads of receipts and expenditure.

All such information must also be made available in the public domain. Such rigorous scrutiny would send right signals, including to the RBI to move quickly towards softening of interest rates policy; and also avert the prospects of downgrading of country’s credit.
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