Indian Budget 2004-05
Full Text of P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, Budget Speech(July 8, 2004)
II. NATIONAL COMMON MINIMUM PROGRAMME:
THE GUIDING LIGHT
3. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has given to itself, and to the people of this country, a Common Minimum Programme. The Government has since adopted it as the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP). The programme spells out seven clear economic objectives:
(1) maintaining a growth rate of 7 - 8 per cent per year for a sustained period;
(2) providing universal access to quality basic education and health;
(3) generating gainful employment in agriculture, manufacturing and services, and promoting investment;
(4) assuring 100 days’ employment to the breadwinner in each family at the minimum wage;
(5) focusing on agriculture and infrastructure;
(6) accelerating fiscal consolidation and reform; and
(7) ensuring higher and more efficient fiscal devolution.
4. The UPA government began its journey in May this year. However, I may note that one-quarter of the year has elapsed and, by the time the Budget is passed and the President gives his assent to the Finance Bill, nearly one-half of the year will be over. There is also an Interim Budget left behind by my predecessor.
5. The Government has to shift gears; and even if we are able to do so quickly, it would leave us only about six months to achieve our objectives for this year. We have therefore decided to adopt an innovative approach. The Planning Commission has advised the ministries and departments to redefine their priorities and redraw their programmes in accordance with the NCMP. This will necessarily involve some changes in the allocations under each head of expenditure. Besides, new programmes or schemes may have to be launched, and old ones restructured. Under the circumstances, it was considered optimal to allow the ongoing programmes to continue until the Planning Commission completes an exhaustive review and reorients the expenditure pattern to conform to the NCMP objectives. One thing, however, is clear. The Plan resources made available in the Interim Budget will be insufficient. Hence, in addition to the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) of Rs.135,071 crore provided in the Interim Budget, I propose to provide a sum of Rs.10,000 crore. This, and some other additional allocations, will raise total plan expenditure to Rs.145,590 crore in the Budget Estimates for 2004-05.