Today Asia occupies the centre stage in the world where the centre of gravity has clearly tilted towards India and China.
At this important juncture it is imperative that our annual Budget provides a clear roadmap for the sustainable development of the economy. The challenge facing our leaders is to reconcile ecological concerns with development aspirations; to acknowledge and provision for the global developments, simultaneously building future resilience by mitigating external risks; and also to strike a balance between the expectations of the common man and the booming entrepreneurs.
Our hon'ble finance minister seems to have delivered on all these fronts.
I must congratulate the government for a reformist, broad- based and an inclusive Budget which endeavours to address the crucial reforms for development.
The government had set forth a business plan for the development of rural infrastructure under Bharat Nirman. One of the major objectives is to achieve rural teledensity of 40% by 2014, and to ensure broadband coverage to all 2.5 lakh panchayats pan India. If this is to be achieved both "physical" and "virtual" infrastructure need to grow hand in hand. I am glad that this year's Budget recognises this and provides a distinct focus on the development of virtual infrastructure.
The focus on 'common man' is undeterred, with increase in farm credit from Rs 3.75 lakh crore in FY11 to Rs 4.75 lakh crore in FY12; subvention of 3 per cent to farmers paying loans on time; and benefits to all tax payers with increase in tax exemption limit. This is likely to fuel rise in disposable incomes and domestic consumption which is essential for stimulating demand for service sectors such as telecom.
Additionally, the continued focus on e- governance augurs well for increasing the transparency and simplification of compliance procedures. It is also a clear indication of the fact that the government is committed to fiscal prudence.
There is a long term focus on planned fiscal deficit reduction, though we would have liked to see auctioning of additional 3G/ BWA spectrum in FY12, thereby positively contributing to the fiscal deficit and also to the development of ' virtual' infrastructure of the country.
The continued focus on reforms in the Budget reinforces that it is a strategic document and a process rather than an isolated event.