At the core of
our economic endeavour and management of the countrys finances are the interests of
our citizens; all this effort is for their total well being. That is our central
objective, towards which the NDA government has a non-negotiable commitment. Through
Budget 2003-2004, the Government, therefore, addresses the following five objectives, as
Panch Priorities, for our citizens and for the economic security of our
country, though these are not listed in any hierarchial order of importance:
eradication; addressing the life time concerns of our citizens, covering
health, housing, education and employment;
consolidation through tax reforms and progressive elimination of budgetary drags,
including reform of the additional excise duty, introduction of service tax, and
introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) from April 1, 2003 at the State level.
and related aspects including irrigation; and
manufacturing sector efficiency, including promotion of exports and further acceleration
of the reform process.
me to share the conceptual underpinning of these panch priorities. Let us, to
start with readily acknowledge that the essential entrepreneurial character and the
creative genius of our citizens is our greatest asset. This energy has to be released. For
that, and for converting the liability of want into the asset of ability, eradication of
poverty is crucial; that is the moral and economic issue of our times. Too often it is
observed that budgetary exercises float over the wide mass of India, relating only to a
few. This is not so here. And that is why a closely interrelated concern is renewed
progress on the front of agriculture; our nations life blood. A second revolution,
to follow the earlier Green Revolution is the vital need of today.
But neither in
agriculture, nor in industry, shall we be able to attain our objective, if infrastructure,
both physical and social, is not rapidly and efficiently developed. For this, private and
public interest must combine so as to generate maximum social welfare. Upon these
foundations, and through encouraging specific manufacturing sectors, particularly
activities where knowledge is industry, we will enhance growth, improve incomes, generate
employment and promote exports. For our growth to be sustained, fiscal consolidation is
the basis; it is the central pillar. Government has to totally eliminate budgetary drags,
and be rid of the self-laid traps; they retard both the pace and the robustness of our
growth. What is needed is a continuous and self-reliant progression of accelerating, all
round growth, with a wider distributive spread of national wealth and greater spending
power in the hands of all our citizens. We have to recognise the need to address a
reduction of not just our social but economic inequalities, too. This cannot be postponed.
That is why reforms are so critical. And, our reform agenda must not be held hostage;
either to yesterdays debates, or to subjective and selective interpretations of it.
This is a collective need, for the nations growth, which all of us have to address
there is palpable impatience in the country for progress and growth. The nation can not
afford the luxury of prolonged periods of reflection, or a leisurely implementation
schedule. The world will otherwise pass us by. Beyond deregulation, it is more and ever
more de-bureaucratisation that is needed, as much of systems as of the mind. Of course,
institutions matter, correct design and application of rules, too, but all in the service
of our national objectives; not either as obtuse abstractions or as partisan goals. The
core need in the country is of releasing national creativity. The Budget 2003-2004, of the
NDA Government endeavours to do just that. This is our economic and social compact.