In a live interview with The Quint's Opinions Editor Nishtha Gautham, economist Dr Rathin Roy called this year's budget "exasperating," stating that the government was incapable of collecting taxes and undertaking disinvestments according to its own expectations.
Discussing the hits and misses of the Union Budget 2022 that was presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday, 1 February, he said the biggest drawback was that the budget failed to plan for the future.
"Stop boasting. Start acting. I want to see action and progress now," he said.
"The government has understood the extent of its incompetence. For the next year, the disinvestment targets are much lesser. The tax revenue targets are modest. They have no medium-term plan. Earlier, they would give some kind of astrology on where the economy will be for the next four years. And they think they can call this a 25-year blueprint?"Economist Dr Rathin Roy
Why Did Govt Cut Health Expenditure?
Dr Roy minced no words in explaining how the budget could statistically impact the Indian economy that is facing a recession-like situation due to the pandemic. He explained that the government had cut down on NREGA funding and health expenditure, which could affect people from the lower economic class and the middle class.
"For the fourth time in a year, pre and post-pandemic, the government doesn't have the money to do all that it wants to. Therefore, the GOI, during the pandemic, borrowed a lot and decreased expenditure. This year, they wanted to disinvest, get Rs 150,000 crore, and get tax revenues above 8%. They have miserably failed on these counts," he said.
The renowned economist also said that the tall promises made in any budget would come to naught because of the slow pace at which files moved in the ministries. Earlier too, he had remarked that despite booming markets, the Indian government could not meet the divestment targets in the financial year 2020-21.
Dr Roy critiqued the Indian industrialists' habit of hailing each budget as "revolutionary."
A day before the budget, the government's annual economic survey had said that India would lead the world in economic growth at 8-8.5 percent and concluded that it had the headroom to spend more.
Dr Roy also pointed out that several measures could be seen through the lens of politics with the elections coming up in Uttar Pradesh and four other states this year.