24 Feb 2016 17:31 IST

Hoping this year will not disappoint

Budget 2016 should focus on skill development and defence, among other things

The Budget speech of 2015-16 by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had clearly laid out the framework of financial and economic policy that the new government envisaged to follow. It had special emphasis on increased public investment in civic amenities, integration of ICT to improve public service delivery, greater private sector partnership in infrastructure development, and a prudent fiscal deficit target. However, as good as these policy principles sound, it is hard not to feel disappointed at the very least.

Skill development

Among all major announcements, the Make in India campaign has shown potential but requires sufficient time and policy support to take off. India needs greater and well-planned investment in the skill development mission, along with development of infrastructure sector to back up Make in India, as well as the Start Up India campaign. To ensure realisation of the demographic dividend, the Government should invest in delivery of primary and secondary education by focusing on teacher training and promoting MOOCs.

Connectivity

Mobile and broadband connectivity has become an important vehicle for service delivery. It is a sector demanding investments along with regulatory authority to monitor the utilisation of funds. Infrastructure-related investments should be channelled to improve rural-urban connectivity, and ensure that satellite towns are connected with major cities of each state via a hub and spoke model. It is important to be cautious of the prevailing macroeconomic conditions of the world. My expectation from Budget 2016 is to deliver a long-term vision that not only focuses on growth and GDP numbers, but also endeavours to bring change at the ground level.

Focus on agriculture

The agricultural sector has faced two successive droughts, and even though India does not face an immediate threat in terms of its food security, targeted efforts need to be made to revamp the near-archaic agricultural sector of the country. As we moved towards financial federalism last year (more revenue to state), this will surely find a mention in the 2016-17 Budget speech. Performance-based schemes for state in areas like health, education and police modernisation would be ideal.

Broaching defence

As expenditure on defence related manufacturing abilities is among the most discussed issues throughout the year, the Government should take cognizance of the fact that we are facing the threat of attacks on the cyberspace front as welland hence I am expecting related investment announcement in budget 2016-17.

I look forward to analysing the outcome Budget on these grounds, along with the Economic Survey, as it will clearly illustrate what to prioritise and what not to prioritise.

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