Indian Budget 2009-10- Full Text- July 06, 2009
TOWARDS ECONOMIC REVIVAL
13. To counter the negative fallout of the global slowdown on the Indian economy, the Government responded by providing three focused fiscal stimulus packages in the form of tax relief to boost demand and increased expenditure on public projects to create employment and public assets. The RBI took a number of monetary easing and liquidity enhancing measures to facilitate flow of funds from the financial system to meet the needs of productive sectors.
14. This fiscal accommodation led to an increase in fiscal deficit from 2.7 per cent in 2007-08 to 6.2 per cent of GDP in 2008-09. The difference between the actuals of 2007-08 and 2008-09 constituted the total fiscal stimulus. This fiscal stimulus at 3.5% of GDP at current market prices for 2008-09 amounts to Rs.1,86,000 crore.
15. These measures were effective in arresting the fall in growth rate of GDP in 2008-09 and we achieved a growth of 6.7 per cent. There are signs of revival in the domestic industry and the foreign investors have also returned to the Indian market in the last couple of months. It is possible that the two worst quarters since the global financial meltdown in September 2008 are behind us. While the global financial conditions have shown improvement over the recent months, uncertainties relating to the revival of the global economy remain. We cannot, therefore, afford to drop our guard. We have to continue our efforts to provide further stimulus to the economy.
16. Madam Speaker, what I unfold now are only the ‘First steps’. It will be my endeavour to make the process of budget formulation more participatory and a continuous exercise.
17. To stimulate public investment in infrastructure, we had set up the India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) as a special purpose vehicle for providing long term financial assistance to infrastructure projects. We will ensure that IIFCL is given greater flexibility to aggressively fulfil its mandate.
18. ‘Takeout financing’ is an accepted international practice of releasing long term funds for financing infrastructure projects. It can be used to effectively address the asset liability mismatch of commercial banks arising out of financing infrastructure projects and also to free up capital for financing new projects. IIFCL would, in consultation with banks, evolve a ‘takeout financing’ scheme which could facilitate incremental lending to the infrastructure sector.
19. Government has had some success in attracting private investment in a wide range of infrastructure sectors such as telecommunications, power generation, airports, ports, roads and even in railways through public private partnerships ( PPP ). To ensure that infrastructure projects do not face financing difficulties arising from the current downturn, as I indicated in my Interim Budget Speech, the Government has decided that IIFCL will refinance 60 per cent of commercial bank loans for PPP projects in critical sectors over the next fifteen to eighteen months. The IIFCL and Banks are now in a position 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.
20. The investment in infrastructure for the growth of economy is critical. I have urged my colleagues in the Central and State Governments to remove policy, regulatory and institutional bottlenecks for speedy implementation of infrastructure projects. I, on my part, will ensure that sufficient funds are made available for this sector.
Highway and Railways
21. The allocation during the current year to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) is being stepped up by 23 per cent over the 2008-09 (BE). I have also increased the allocation for the Railways from Rs.10,800 crore made in the Interim Budget for 2009-10 to Rs.15,800 crore.
22. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has been an important instrument for refocusing the attention of the State governments on the importance of urban infrastructure. In recognition of the role of JNNURM, the allocation for this scheme is being stepped up by 87 per cent to Rs.12,887 crore in the current budget. To improve the lot of the urban poor, I propose to enhance the allocation for housing and provision of basic amenities to urban poor to Rs.3,973 crore in the current year’s budget. This includes the provision for Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), a new scheme announced in the address of the President of India. This scheme, the parameters of which are being worked out, is intended to make the country slum free in the five year period.
Brihan Mumbai Storm Water Drainage Project (BRIMSTOWA)
23. To address the problem of flooding in Mumbai, Brihan Mumbai Storm Water Drainage Project (BRIMSTOWA) was initiated in 2007. The entire estimated cost of the project at Rs.1,200 crore is being funded through Central assistance. A sum of Rs.500 crore has been released for this project upto
2008-09. I have enhanced the provision for this project from Rs.200 crore in Interim BE to Rs.500 crore to expedite the completion of the project.
24. The Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP) is an important scheme for reducing the gap between power demand and supply. I propose to increase the allocation for this scheme to Rs.2,080 crore, a steep increase of 160 per cent above the allocation in the BE of 2008-09.
25. With the recent find of natural gas in the KG Basin on the Eastern offshore of the country, the indigenous production of Natural Gas is set to double with natural gas emerging as an important source of energy. LNG infrastructure in the country is also being expanded. Government proposes to develop a blueprint for long distance gas highways leading to a National Gas Grid. This would facilitate transportation of gas across the length and breadth of the country.
Assam Gas Cracker Project
26. The Assam Gas Cracker Project sanctioned in April 2006 is being executed at a cost of Rs.5,461 crore. The capital subsidy of Rs.2,138 crore for the project is to be provided by the Central Government. The outlay for this project is being stepped up suitably.
I now turn to Agricultural development.
27. Agriculture has been the mainstay of our economy with 60 per cent of our population deriving their sustenance from it. In the recent past, the sector has recorded a growth of about 4 per cent per annum with substantial increase in plan allocations and capital formation in the sector. Agriculture credit flow was Rs.2,87,000 crore in 2008-09. The target for agriculture credit flow for the year 2009-10 is being set at Rs.3,25,000 crore. To achieve this, I propose to continue the interest subvention scheme for short term crop loans to farmers for loans upto Rs.3 lakh per farmer at the interest rate of 7 per cent per annum. I am also happy to announce that, for this year, the Government shall pay an additional subvention of 1 per cent as an incentive to those farmers who repay their short term crop loans on schedule. Thus, the interest rate for these farmers will come down to 6 per cent per annum. For this, I am making an additional Budget provision of Rs.411 crore over Interim BE.
Debt Relief for farmers
28. The one-time bank loan waiver of nearly Rs.71,000 crore to cover an estimated 40 million farmers was one of the major highlights of the last Budget. Under the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (2008), farmers having more than two hectares of land were given time upto 30th June, 2009 to pay 75% of their overdues. Due to the late arrival of monsoon, I propose to extend this period by six months upto 31st December, 2009 .
29. It is learnt that in some regions of Maharashtra , a large number of farmers had taken loans from private money lenders and the loan waiver scheme did not cover them. The matter requires special attention. To examine the matter in greater detail and suggest the future course of action, I propose to set up a Taskforce.
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme
30. I propose to provide an additional Rs.1,000 crore over Interim BE for the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), marking an increase of 75 per cent over the allocation in 2008-09(BE). The allocation for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) is also being stepped up by 30 per cent over Budget Estimates of 2008-09.
Restoring Export Growth
31. Our exporters by virtue of their close links to the external sector have borne the brunt of the global economic crisis. It is, therefore, appropriate that we continue to provide all possible assistance to our exporters to help them overcome the short term disadvantages. More specifically:
(a) An adjustment assistance scheme to provide enhanced Export Credit and Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) cover at 95 per cent to badly hit sectors had been initiated in December 2008 to mitigate the difficulties faced by the exporters. In view of the continuing contraction in exports, I propose to extend the benefits of this scheme up to March 2010.
(b) The Market Development Assistance Scheme provides support to exporters in developing new markets. With many traditional markets still under financial stress, greater effort is required to identify and develop new markets. I propose to enhance the allocation for this scheme by 148% over BE 2008-09 to Rs.124 crore.
(c) With a view to insulating the employment - oriented export sectors from the global meltdown, Government had provided an interest subvention of 2 per cent on pre-shipment credit for seven such sectors. These sectors are textiles including handlooms, handicrafts, carpets, leather, gems and jewellery, marine products and small and medium exporters. I propose to extend the interest subvention beyond the current deadline of September 30, 2009 to March 31, 2010 .
(d) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have been affected by the slowdown in exports and the indirect effect of the global crisis on domestic demand. To support this sector, I propose to facilitate the flow of credit at reasonable rates, by providing a special fund out of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) to Small Industries Development Bank (SIDBI). This fund of Rs.4,000 crore will incentivise Banks and State Finance Corporations (SFCs) to lend to Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) by refinancing 50 per cent of incremental lending to MSEs during the current financial year.
(e) In February, 2009 the Print Media was given a stimulus package comprising waiver of 15% agency commission on DAVP advertisements and a 10% increase in the DAVP rates to be paid as a ‘special relief’ subject to documentary proof of loss of revenue in non-governmental advertisements. Since Print Media is still passing through difficult times, I have decided to extend the stimulus package for another six months from 30th June, 2009 to 31st December, 2009 .
32. The short term fiscal stimulus has to be balanced against long term prudence and fiscal sustainability objectives. To quote Kautilya, “In the interest of the prosperity of the country, a King shall be diligent in foreseeing the possibility of calamities, try to avert them before they arise, overcome those which happen, remove all obstructions to economic activity and prevent loss of revenue to the state”. I intend to take Kautilya’s advice and return to the FRBM target for fiscal deficit at the earliest and as soon as the negative effects of the global crisis on the Indian economy have been overcome. On the medium term fiscal perspective, I await the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission.
33. To bring the fiscal deficit under control, we have to initiate institutional reform measures during the current year itself. This is essential for maintaining a stable balance of payments, moderate interest rates and steady flow of external capital for corporate investment. These measures have to encompass all aspects of the budget such as subsidies, taxes, expenditure and disinvestment.
34. In the context of the nation’s food security, the declining response of agricultural productivity to increased fertilizer usage in the country is a matter of concern. To ensure balanced application of fertilizers, the Government intends to move towards a nutrient based subsidy regime instead of the current product pricing regime. It will lead to availability of innovative fertilizer products in the market at reasonable prices. This unshackling of the fertilizer manufacturing sector is expected to attract fresh investments in this sector. In due course it is also intended to move to a system of direct transfer of subsidy to the farmers.
Petroleum and Diesel pricing policy
35. Madam Speaker, Honourable Members are aware that global prices of oil and petroleum products had shot up to unprecedented levels in 2008-09. Most oil importing countries, including our neighbours, adjusted their domestic prices to reflect these global changes. Though prices have declined since then, they are already about double of the lows reached in the wake of the global financial crisis. It is important to recognise that, with almost three-quarters of our oil consumption met through imports, domestic prices of petrol and diesel have to be broadly in sync with global prices of these items. Government will set up an expert group to advise on a viable and sustainable system of pricing petroleum products. Details will be announced by my colleague, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
36. It is time that we complete the process that was started in 1991 for building a trust based, simple, neutral, tax system with almost no exemptions and low rates designed to promote voluntary compliance. The Income Tax Return Forms should be simple and user-friendly. I have asked the Department to work on SARAL-II forms for early introduction. We need a tax system which generates revenues on a sustained basis without use of coercive tax collection methods at the end of each year to meet targets. It is my intention to make a modest start in this direction in the current year and ensure that the process is completed in the next four years. At the end of this process, I hope the Finance Minister can credibly say that our tax collectors are like honey bees collecting nectar from the flowers without disturbing them, but spreading their pollen so that all flowers can thrive and bear fruit.
People’s ownership of PSUs
37. The Public Sector Undertakings are the wealth of the nation, and part of this wealth should rest in the hands of the people. While retaining at least 51 per cent Government equity in our enterprises, I propose to encourage people’s participation in our disinvestment programme. Here, I must state clearly that public sector enterprises such as banks and insurance companies will remain in the public sector and will be given all support, including capital infusion, to grow and remain competitive.
38. The financial sector is the life blood of any economy. Our Government’s approach to the banking and financial sector has been to ensure robust oversight and regulation while expanding financial access and deepening markets. The merit of this balanced approach has been borne out in the recent experience, as the turbulence in the world financial markets has left the Indian banking and financial sector relatively unaffected. Never before has Indira Gandhi’s bold decision to nationalise our banking system exactly 40 years ago - on 14th of July, 1969 - appeared as wise and visionary as it has over the past few months. Her approach continues to be our inspiration even as we introduce competition and new technology in this sector.
39. The average public float in Indian listed companies is less than 15 per cent. Deep non-manipulable markets require larger and diversified public shareholdings. This requirement should be uniformly applied to the private sector as well as listed public sector companies. I propose to raise, in a phased manner, the threshold for non-promoter public shareholding for all listed companies.
40. For a country like ours, with significant sections of unbanked population and regions, financial inclusion is vital for sustaining long term equitable development. As part of the financial inclusion drive, scheduled commercial banks have been opening ‘no frills’ accounts either with ‘nil’ or very low minimum balances. So far, these banks have opened 3.3 crore such accounts. The RBI has announced a further relaxation in its Branch Authorisation Policy. Scheduled Commercial Banks are now allowed to set up off-site ATMs without prior approval, subject to reporting.
41. Despite the expansion of banking network in the country, there are still some areas that remain under-banked or unbanked. A sub-committee of State Level Bankers Committee ( SLB C) will identify such areas and formulate an action plan for providing banking facilities to all these areas in the next 3 years. I propose to set aside Rs.100 crore during the current year as one-time grant-in-aid to ensure provision of at least one centre/Point of Sales (POS) for banking services in each of the unbanked blocks in the country.
42. The Government has established Competition Commission of India, an autonomous regulatory body to promote and sustain competition in markets, protect interests of consumers and to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition. An Appellate body headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court has also been constituted.
43. The benefits of competition should now come to more sectors and their users and consumers. Now is the time for us to work on these aspects to eliminate supply bottlenecks, enhance productivity, reduce costs and improve quality of goods and services supplied to consumers.
44. Private sector investment has been affected by the global macro economic conditions. Our Government is committed to creating a facilitating environment in which a competitive private sector can thrive and play its rightful role in nation’s economic development. India ’s high growth of 8.5% per annum from 2004 to 2008 was fuelled in very large part by private investment. I look forward to working closely with industry and our vibrant entrepreneurial community to address their outstanding concerns.
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