Budget Opinion Poll: Indians Not Impressed, Fear What Lies Ahead
According to the CVoter survey, 49.7% of respondents said “Future expenses will become difficult to manage.”
Usually it's the other way around – the Narendra Modi government gets brickbats for its handling of a crisis from experts but its popularity remains intact in surveys.
Budget 2021-22 presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 1 February turned out to be the different – surveys revealed a far more pessimistic picture than what experts said in studios and columns.
Highest Negative Sentiment
According to a Budget opinion poll by CVoter with a sample size of 1,200, 36.4 percent respondents said that the team of the prime minister and finance minister has delivered "worst than expected" in the Budget. The survey says that 25.1 percent people felt that the Budget was "better than expected" and 27.6 percent people said it was "just as expected".
This is a highest negative sentiment since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014. The previous high was 2018 when 34.9 percent respondents said "worse than expected". This was when the negative effects of Goods and Services Tax – introduced on 1 July 2017 – were felt the strongest.
Worryingly for the Modi government, the negative sentiment is higher than even the 2013 Budget of the United Progressive Alliance in which 29.3 percent people said that it was “worse than expected.”
On being asked if they are "satisfied with the Budget", 45.1 percent said "no" and 35.8 percent said "yes". The percentage of satisfied people has fallen sharply from 64 percent in 2020 and that of dissatisfied people has increased by close to 20 percentage points from 25.7 percent in 2020.
The dissatisfaction rating is the highest since 2014, with the exception of 2018.
Youth Most Pessimistic
On being asked to rate the Budget on a scale of 1 to 10, the average rating that the 2021-22 Budget secured from the respondents was 5.3, a major fall of 1.8 points from 7.1 last year. However, it is still higher than the 2018 rating of 4.7 and 2017 rating of 5.2, which were the Budgets immediately after GST and demonetisation respectively.
The rating for the current Budget was lowest among the youth (under 25 years) at 4.97 and 4.94 for those in the Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 monthly income bracket. It was the highest (6.39 points) for those in the Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 income bracket and for those between 46-55 years of age (5.95 points)
The lower rating and negative sentiment compared to previous years seems to be a result of a larger sense of pessimism around the economy and a sense that the Budget isn't doing enough to address it.
This pessimism is reflected in a number of other data points in the Budget.
Concerns Over Household Expenses
The biggest fear seems to be regarding inflation and managing household expenses.
On being asked "how do you foresee your day-to-day expenses in the next one year?" 49.7 percent of respondents said "Future expenses will become difficult to manage." This is an increase of 11.7 percentage points compared to 2020.
In fact, this is the highest percentage of people responding this way since the Modi government came to power in 2014. The previous high was in 2018 when 48 percent of people said that their expenses are going to be difficult to manage.
On being asked how the next one year is going to be for them, 29 percent of people said that "it is going to deteriorate," 30.4 percent of people said it is going to remain the same and 27.6 percent said it is going to "improve".
This is the most pessimistic assessment since 2014. Even in 2018, while a marginally higher proportion of people said their standard of living will deteriorate (29.3 percent), those optimistic were substantially higher at 40.4 percent.
It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed greatly to economic pessimism and the Modi government hasn't done much to boost their sentiment. Some experts have said that the government could have done more to boost demand and put more money in the pockets of people.
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