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February 27, 1999
'I don't think the Budget will give an impetus to agriculture'
A C Muthaiah
It is funny the government's downsizing effort should result in just doing away with four secretary-level posts.
The Gold Bond Scheme is a good one in the sense that it will check the abnormal import of gold.
Although the FM talked a lot about agriculture, there is nothing much in the Budget for the agri-sector. I don't think the Budget will give an impetus to the agricultural sector.
For NRIs, the Budget has automatic approval for up to 100 per cent investment in most sectors. This is a good move. So is opening trading terminals.
Downsizing in India is not so easy. The move to scrap four secretary level posts means nothing. This is nothing compared to China which did major downsizing.
Projections are very good vis a vis the fiscal deficit, but it will be a stiff task to achieve that.
The Sensex spurt today might sustain itself over the next few days, but it depends on other factors. UTI is a big player. So income tax exemptions are going to make a big difference. I shall award six points to Mr Sinha on a scale of 1 to 10.
The Budget has something for the social infrastructure sector. It seems, finally, Professor Amartya Sen's suggestions have struck a chord in Indian governmental quarters. Allocations for primary education and health centres is a move that will have long-term benefits. The Budget has a few positive aspects, no doubt.
I feel the Budget could have done something concrete for the agricultural sector. As I said before, there is no impetus. Let me say, NRIs can look forward to a responsive government and a hassle-free trading in stocks from their own places now.
Dr A C Muthaiah, chairman, Southern Petrochemicals Industries Corporation.
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