Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar, Anshula Mehta, Nikhil Jacob

The decade of 2010 – 2020 could be considered as the ‘lost decade’. The uncertainties surrounding a possible change in government  during the early years, the haphazard rollout of the demonetization exercise, the ill-planned Good and Services Tax (GST) launch and the pandemic, all contributed to earning this dubious tag for the past decade, remarked Prof Jyoti Chandiramani, Symbiosis School of Economics; Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune.

Jyoti Chandiramani

She was speaking at a Panel discussion held on 8 February 2021, on the topic, ‘Pandemic & Union Budget 2021: Implementation and the way forward’ organized by IMPRI – Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and Counterview.

During this period, she added that the capital investment has come down by 10 percent, and the savings to GDP ratio have seen a dramatic fall. It is amidst this bleak environment, and with limited fiscal space, Budget 2021 has come out with allocations that broadly echo the framework mentioned in the ‘Bare Necessities’ chapter of the Economic survey; however, the emoluments under several critical heads are not as high as it has been shown to be, noted Prof Chandiramani. 

While reiterating the Chair, Dr Arun Kumar’s views, and the other panelists regarding the decline in allocations to several critical social and economic sectors, Prof Chandiramani highlighted the decline in allocation towards the Clear Air Program and the increase in outlay for the Atal Mission for rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM). However, she noted that the allocations made are meager because the definition of urban is very stringent, whereby many regions are left out while computing the allocations.

To support her argument, Dr Chandiramani referred to data that shows that the urban centres have a population and built-up area of well over 50 percent but possess hardly 2.39 percent of the total land. Further, she estimated that about 2231 more census towns will be added after the current census, due to which another 17.9 million people will be classified as urban.

However, this will only lead to being defined as urban but governed by rural structures. On the other hand, there are 24,000 large villages housing 190 million people who do not fit the stringent definitions of what urban is. They will be denied the basic amenities and public services and won’t feature in the budget analysis, she added.

Going forward, Dr Chandiramani emphasized the setting up of development finance institutions – DFI’s for facilitating long term infrastructure financing. Also, there is an urgent need to set up a bank on the lines of a National bank for Urban transformation and development, she suggested. 

YouTube Video for Pandemic & Union Budget 2021: Implementation and the way forward

Picture Courtesy: Banking Frontiers