Round Table Dialogue on Economic Survey and Union Budget
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organised a round table dialogue (RTD) on 12 February 2018, to discuss the Economic Survey 2017-18, and the Union Budget 2018-19. The panel comprised of eminent economists Dr Surjeet Bhalla (Member, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council), Mr Rathin Roy (Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, NIPFP) and Dr Rajiv Kumar (Vice Chairperson, Niti Aayog).

The budget was appraised as a non-populist one despite being a pre-election budget that emphasises fiscal prudence. However, concerns were raised on rising revenue deficit that needs to be addressed along with containing fiscal deficit. However, direct taxes grew faster than nominal incomes. Indian economy was gauged as buoyant, but returning back to protectionism. The current budget was also assessed as agriculture dominant (agenda of doubling farmers’ income) and focused on jobs by shifting capital subsidies to employment related subsidies. A major issue flagged was Research and Development (R&D) expenditure which also finds mention in the newly released Economic Survey and where India needs to catch up in the international arena. The panelists laid strong focus on Union Government’s expenditure on matters of national security such as defense, policing and foreign policy owing to strong apprehensions with India’s rapidly changing strategic environment.

The panel also raised the issue of state budgets and their contribution in bridging the gap on social infrastructure such as health, education, sanitation etc. with the union budget. The impact of the Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation was also addressed as was the Long Term Capital Gains Tax being initiated to balance the financial movement back from heating capital markets to other avenues in Indian economy.
Other issues in the panel discussion were the credibility of India’s international commitments, accountability and performance based results and debate on where India will need to allocate budget for expenditure in coming years.

Event Date 
February 12, 2018
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