In the name of holy cow

National Cow Commission to set up.

New Delhi: Going against convention, the Narendra Modi government on Friday presented a full-fledged election Budget targeting farmers, unorganised labourers, and the middle class to swing the Lok Sabha poll results in its favour.

For workers in the unorganised sector, Mr Piyush Goyal announced a pension scheme where those earning up to Rs 15,000 monthly will get Rs 3,000 per month after 60 years of age. Theplan is expected to provide social security to 10 crore labourers.

Apparently looking for a “divine intervention” during an election year, Mr Goyal announced the “Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog” (named after mythological Kamdhenu cow) which will look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cows.

He also increased the allocation for centrally sponsored scheme Rashtriya Gokul Mission to Rs 750 crore for the current financial year from the Budget Estimate of Rs 301.50 crore.

“This government will never shy away from honouring our mother cow,” said Mr Goyal.

Many BJP-ruled states have taken measures for cow welfare to cater to its supporters. Under BJP, Rajasthan even had started a cow ministry.

The finance minister tried to dispel Opposition parties charge that unemployment has increased; citing EPFO membership data which showed increase of 2 crore in two years “reflecting formalisation of the economy and job creations.”

However, it was the budget arithmetic that was concerning the experts. Mr Goyal said fiscal deficit for the current fiscal is expected to be slightly higher at 3.4 per cent against the target of 3.3 per cent. For 2019-20, the government retained the fiscal deficit at 3.4 per cent of the GDP.

Mr Goyal blamed the slippage on Rs 20,000 crore provided in 2018-19 RE (revised estimate) for income support to farmers and Rs 75,000 crore in 2019-20 BE for the farmer income support scheme.

Analysts, however, doubt the government’s ability to meet the fiscal deficit target even the next year.

“Ongoing slippage from the government’s budgeted fiscal deficit targets over the past two years and our expectation that the government will face challenges meeting its target again this coming fiscal year (ending March 2020) do not bode well for medium term fiscal consolidation,” said Moody’s Investors Service.

While the defence allocation has been raised by seven per cent to over Rs 3 lakh crore, the subsidy bill has gone up to Rs 2.97 lakh crore from Rs 2.66 lakh crore.

Target for revenue from disinvestment of government stake in PSUs has been raised to Rs 90,000 crore from Rs 80,000 crore and dividend from the RBI and other banks has been pegged at Rs 82,900 crore.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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