Interim Indian Union Budget 2009-2010
(16th February 2009)
In view of General elections, Interim Indian Budget has not made any important announcement. It has not changed taxes/duties. This budget is presented to get approval for interim spending plans for the 2009/10 fiscal year from April to July 2009. The requirements for the remaining part of the year are to be voted separately, after the elections.
Full Budget Speech of
Minister of Finance
Mr. Speaker, Sir,
I rise to present the Interim Budget for 2009-10.
2. Five years ago the people of India had voted for change. In the words of our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, people had sought “a change in the manner in which this country is run, a change in the national priorities and a change in the processes and focus of the Government”. The Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance, built around ‘Aam Aadmi’, was a response to this call for change. As indicated by Shri P. Chidambaram in July 2004, this programme spelt out seven clear economic objectives:
(i) maintaining a growth rate of 7-8 per cent per year for a sustained period;
(ii) providing universal access to quality basic education and health;
(iii) generating gainful employment and promoting investment;
(iv) assuring hundred days of employment to the breadwinner in each family at the minimum wage;
(v) focusing on agriculture, rural development and infrastructure;
(vi) accelerating fiscal consolidation and reform; and
(vii) ensuring higher and more efficient fiscal devolution.
3. As I present the sixth budget of the Government of the United Progressive Alliance which completes its tenure in a couple of months, I can say with confidence that every effort has been made by the government to deliver on the commitments made.
4. For the first four years of the UPA government, our policies ensured a dream run for the economy with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recording increase of 7.5 per cent, 9.5 per cent, 9.7 per cent and 9 per cent from fiscal year 2004-05 to 2007-08. For the first time, the Indian economy showed sustained growth of over 9 per cent for three consecutive years. With per capita income growing at 7.4 per cent per annum, this represented the fastest ever improvement in living standards over a four year period.
5. During this period, the fiscal deficit came down from 4.5 per cent in 2003-04 to 2.7 per cent in 2007-08 and the revenue deficit declined from 3.6 per cent to 1.1 per cent.
6. Investment and savings showed significant improvement. The domestic investment rate as a proportion of GDP increased from 27.6 per cent in 2003-04 to over 39 per cent in 2007-08. The gross domestic savings rate shot up from 29.8 per cent to 37.7 per cent during this period. The gross capital formation in agriculture as a proportion of agriculture GDP improved from 11.1 per cent in 2003-04 to 14.2 per cent in 2007-08.
7. The buoyant growth of Government revenues facilitated fiscal consolidation as mandated in the FRBM Act. The tax to GDP ratio increased from 9.2 per cent in 2003-04 to 12.5 per cent in 2007-08 bringing us within striking distance of the target for fiscal correction. This also enhanced our capacity to raise resources internally to finance our growth at the rate of 9 per cent per annum during the Eleventh Five Year Plan.
8. All this would not have been possible without the guidance
of UPA Chairperson, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the inspiring leadership of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the hard work put in by my predecessor, Shri P. Chidambaram.
9. The growth drivers for this period were agriculture, services, manufacturing along with trade and construction. Hon’ble Members will agree with me that the real heroes of India’s success story were our farmers. Through their hard work, they ensured “food security” for the country. With record procurement of 22.7 million tonnes of wheat and 28.5 million tonnes of rice for our Public Distribution System in 2008, our granaries are full. During this four year period, the annual growth rate of agriculture rose to 3.7 per cent. The production of foodgrains increased by about 10 million tonnes each year to reach an all time high of over 230 million tonnes in 2007-08. Despite a high base, the outlook for 2008-09 is encouraging with the country receiving normal rainfall during the agricultural season. Manufacturing, registered as well as unregistered, recorded a growth of 9.5 per cent per annum in the period 2004-05 to 2007-08. Similarly, communication and construction sectors grew at the rate of 26 per cent and 13.5 per cent per annum, respectively.
10. Though our growth is based largely on domestic efforts, foreign trade and capital inflows played a catalytic role. India’s exports grew at an annual average growth rate of 26.4 per cent in US dollar terms during this period. Foreign trade increased from 23.7 per cent of GDP in 2003-04 to 35.5 per cent in 2007-08. The conscious policy to gradually integrate the Indian economy with the world, opened new opportunities for Indian corporates to build world scale plants and aim at global competitiveness.
11. In order to maintain a high GDP growth rate on a sustained basis with price stability, the Indian economy had to face two inter-related macro-economic challenges. These relate to capital inflows and global inflation. Profitable investment opportunities generated by high GDP growth attract foreign capital. In 2007-08, capital inflows spurted to an unprecedented 9 per cent of GDP, far in excess of current account financing requirements leading to large accumulation of reserves and build up of pressure on prices.
12. During 2008-09, international prices of many essential commodities particularly fuel oils, food and edible oils and metals rose to alarming levels. To cite just one example, the price of crude oil which was US $ 28 per barrel in 2003-04 shot up to US $ 147 per barrel in 2008. The sharp rise in global inflation, even with a moderated pass-through, put pressure on domestic prices. The WPI headline inflation shot up to nearly 13 per cent in the first week of August 2008. To ease supply side constraints, Government took a series of fiscal and administrative measures, in concert with monetary policy measures by the Reserve Bank of India. RBI raised the interest rates to mop up excess liquidity. This, in turn, had implications for the growth rate from the demand as well as supply side. These, along with easing of global price pressures, led to a decline in domestic prices with inflation rate falling to 4.4 per cent on January 31, 2009. We have weathered the crisis, but there is no room for complacency.
Outlook for the year 2008-09
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I now turn to the outlook for the current year and the events that have impacted its prospects.
13. The global financial crisis which began in 2007 took a turn for the worse in September 2008 with the collapse of several international financial institutions, including investment banks, mortgage lenders and insurance companies. There has been a severe choking of credit since then and a global crash in stock markets. The slowdown intensified with the US, Europe and Japan sliding into recession. Current indications of the global situation are not encouraging. Forecasts indicate that the World economy in 2009 may fare worse than in 2008.
14. A crisis of such magnitude in developed countries is bound to have an impact around the world. Most emerging market economies have slowed down significantly. India too has been affected. For the first nine months of the current year, the growth rate of exports has come down to 17.1 per cent. According to the latest figures available, the industrial production has fallen by 2 per cent year-on-year basis in December 2008. In these difficult times, when most economies are struggling to stay afloat, a healthy 7.1 per cent rate of GDP growth still makes India the second fastest growing economy in the world.
15. To counter the negative fallout of the global slowdown on the Indian economy, our Government took prompt action by providing substantial fiscal stimulus. The two packages announced on December 7, 2008 and January 2, 2009, provide tax relief to boost demand and aim at increasing expenditure on public projects to create employment and public assets. In this context, the Government renewed its efforts to increase infrastructure investments. In the period from August 2008 to January 2009 alone, the Government accorded approval for 37 infrastructure projects worth Rs.70 thousand crore.
16. In addition to expanding public sector investment in infrastructure, our Government has also taken steps to encourage private investment in infrastructure through Public Private Partnership (PPP). I am happy to say that the Government of India has been successful in attracting private investment in infrastructure sectors such as telecommunications, power generation, airports, ports, roads and railways. Under the PPP mode, 54 Central Sector infrastructure projects with a total project cost of Rs.67 thousand seven hundred crore have been given in-principle or final approval by the PPP Appraisal Committee and 23 projects amounting to Rs.27 thousand nine hundred crore have been approved for viability gap funding in 2008-09.
17. To ensure that such projects do not face financing difficulties arising from the current downturn, we have taken a new initiative for providing refinance to the banks for long term credit extended to these projects. Accordingly, the Government has decided that India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd. (IIFCL) will refinance 60 per cent of commercial bank loans for PPP projects in critical sectors over the next eighteen months or so. For this purpose, IIFCL has been authorized to raise Rs.10 thousand crore in the market by the end of March 2009. An additional Rs.30 thousand crore can be raised if required. With this, IIFCL and banks will be able to support projects involving a total investment of Rs.100 thousand crore in infrastructure. Combined with the steps we are taking to increase public investment in infrastructure, this will provide a big boost to such investment.
18. The RBI took a number of monetary easing and liquidity enhancing measures including reduction in cash reserve ratio, statutory liquidity ratio and key policy rates. The objective was to facilitate flow of funds from the financial system to meet the needs of productive sectors. Our Government has also announced specific measures to address the impact of global slowdown on India’s exports. These include extension of export credit for labour intensive exports, improving the pre and post shipment credit availability, additional allocations for refund of Terminal Excise Duty/CST and export incentive schemes, and removal of export duty and export ban on certain items. A Committee of Secretaries has been set up to address, on continuing basis, procedural problems being faced by exporters.
19. The favorable economic environment created by the reforms of 1990’s gradually inspired the confidence of foreign investors in our economy, leading to rise in capital inflows. India has evolved a liberal and transparent policy for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Except for a small negative list, FDI is allowed mostly on the automatic route. During 2007-08, we received a record US $ 32.4 billion of FDI. In spite of global financial crisis, inward FDI flows during April-November 2008 were US$ 23.3 billion, representing a growth of 45 per cent over the same period in 2007. Latest figures show a slow down. To provide an impetus to foreign investment in India, guidelines are being further simplified and made homogenous and consistent across various sectors.
20. Extraordinary economic circumstances merit extraordinary measures. Now is the time for such measures. Our Government decided to relax the FRBM targets, in order to provide much needed demand boost to counter the situation created by the global financial meltdown. Indeed, depending on the response of the domestic economy and the revival of the global economy, there may be a need to consider additional fiscal measures when the regular budget is presented by the new Government after the elections. However, the medium term objective must be to revert to the path of fiscal consolidation at the earliest. The Thirteenth Finance Commission has been asked to lay down the roadmap in this regard. The new Government will have to address it in the light of future developments in the domestic and international economic environment.
21. The recent developments have also brought out the need for accelerating the pace of policy reforms, including in the financial sector, to make the economy more competitive. The economic regulatory and oversight systems have to be made more efficient and effective to bring the economy back to the 9 per cent growth path at the earliest.
22. We also have to take note of Prof. Amartya Sen’s observation and I quote “along with old slogan of ‘growth with equity’, we also need a new commitment towards ‘down turn with security’, given the fact that occasional downturns are common - possibly inescapable - in market economies” unquote. Employment generation schemes have to be expanded and social security nets have to be strengthened to protect the vulnerable sections of our society.
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