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Friday, Apr 04, 2003

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Budget as a tool

The Budget, no doubt, is a tool for macro economic management. That being the case, it is imperative to make it obligatory for each Government at the Centre and the States to set realistic economic goals for the next five years, draw a road map fixing yearly targets and more important, report to the people on the progress achieved in key economic areas in a tangible and quantitative manner rather than indulging in endless semantics.

For instance, the Finance Minister must report on the increase in per capita income in real terms, of people living below poverty line, how many people have been brought above the poverty line in the previous year, the increase in per capita healthcare and education expenditure of the poor and so on.

Independent rating agencies and auditors should validate the numbers.

There should also be a report on non-plan expenditure management. It should also be made obligatory for the Finance Minister to get a scorecard drawn up about the previous year's performance by an independent committee comprising NGOs, rating agencies and the Chambers of Commerce.

There should be clear fetters placed on government borrowings and the quality of government expenditure should also be closely monitored.

Ramdas S. Iyer

Chennai

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