NaMo, ignore GST, nationalise kaalaadhan

Budget 2016: Common man and the Government

With the Union Budget just around the corner, what are the challenges faced by the government ?

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Budget – What is the common man looking for?

It is the season of union budget. This is the time of the year when dreams, hopes and expectations run high in the country. Starting with the average person on the street to the corporate scions, all sections of the society are looking forward to a slew of concessions from the union finance minister. The last working day of the month of February is one of the most crucial days of the year which could make or mar the dreams of millions of people for the next 365 days.

If the promises given by the former finance ministers while presenting the union budgets are to be taken seriously, the living standard of the common man should have gone up by leaps and bounds over the last few decades. There was this finance minister from Tamil Nadu who had no qualms in peppering his budget speeches with names of Bollywood blockbusters like Main Hoon Na? Chak De! India and what not. It is another matter that all his budget proposals ended up like rotten masalas and he himself is facing a series of criminal cases ranging from money laundering to official impropriety. He also ensured that the economy of the country has gone to the dogs.

The sad truth is that even after 69 years of independence, the life of the common man continues to rot. One has to struggle to meet three square meals a day and clean drinking water. This is despite the fact that the country is bestowed with some of the best rivers in the world through which billions of cubic feet of water is wasted into the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala are on  an eternal war over sharing of river water and lowering the height of dams which are more than 150 years old.

Travel by trains or buses in India is the most uncertain thing in the  world. There is no guarantee that you will reach the destination as per the schedule announced earlier. Rail tracks need to be replaced, while the condition of Indian highways is better leave unsaid. The only guarantee is the number of toll booths along the highways which are strict and sincere in collecting the boots.

The fair price shops in the country(also known as ration shops) which distribute essential commodities like rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene could be identified from a distance of one kilometre thanks to the foul smell emanating from the rice and wheat stock! The poor need to eat only this kind of stuff, say the bureaucrats. Isn’t it possible for us to have public distribution shops of the same standard as that of super markets which we see in modern shopping malls?

Shouldn’t we have buses and trains of global standards which travel much faster so that we could save our time and money? Shouldn’t we have super speciality hospitals which could be accessed by all irrespective of their financial standings? Shouldn’t we have educational institutions where our children could complete their formal and informal education at affordable costs?

These are the issues which have to be answered by the finance minister while he present the union budget for the year 2016 – 2017. The finance minister says Indian economy is strong and growing but also blames the Opposition for not helping the government to enact legislations in parliament. For the last one year, I have been reading the news that the country’s fortunes would undergo a change only if the government could get the Goods and Services Act  (GSA) passed in  Parliament. Since both the Congress and Communists have personal hatred for the Prime Minister, it is certain that they would not allow the government to pass either this legislation or any other law which may benefit the common man.

What is a matter of concern is the government’s excessive obsession with the GST Bill? This Bill has become a hostage in Sonia Gandhi’s hands. It is understandable also as she always considers the Prime Minister as Mauth Ka Saudagar (Merchant of Death). It is another thing that the poor lady does not know the meaning of the term because all has done is to read from the script in Italian language handed over to her by the likes of Aiyer and Anand Sharma. If only the Prime Minister agrees to bail her out of the corruption charges, the signora* will agree to help the government in the GST Bill imbroglio.

Is the GST Bill that important? (We will come to it in the next post…)



*signora – courtesy title for a married woman in an Italian-speaking area, equivalent to Mrs.

Is GST Bill that important for India or can Budget 2016 deliver more?

GST Bill’s importance is over-stated, according to economists.

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GST Bill's importance is over-stated, according to economists.
GST Bill’s importance is over-stated, according to economists.

Is the GST Bill  that important for India?

Is it possible for India to survive without the GST Bill? “The belief that the GST Bill is the ultimate solution about financial reforms is a bogus statement,” says Dr Srinivasan Kalyanaraman, a former banker with the Asian Development Bank who has witnessed the growth and downfall of many an economy. He pointed out that instead of wasting precious  time of the government, the finance minister should go for implementing the Govinda Rao committee report which suggested the merger of Central Excise and Services Taxes. “This could be distributed among the States as per the recommendations of the Financial Commission to the Government of India. The GST Bill is just a cover and all one has to do is to ignore it,” said Dr Kalyanaraman.

Dr Kalyanaraman, a PhD in public accounts, also wants the finance minister to simplify the tax regime. “Let’s have a single point tax system for the whole country”, he said.

The finance minister is also reported to have expressed his apprehensions about mobilisation of resources as he needs a lot of money for implementing the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. India could be the biggest country in the world which has employed an army of civil servants. The politicians decide the quality of the government based on the number of people each government recruits to run government offices. The only beneficiaries in this process are the employees themselves because they get the best pay and perks for not doing any work. There is job guarantee, monthly pay packets and assured pension after the age of 60.

The union government can go on recruiting all the people in the country as government employees and pay them a consolidated monthly salary as it has the resources to do so without compromising on the security of the nation. The Kala Dhan or the black money kept in tax havens abroad is the solution for this problem. Why Indian money should be kept in foreign banks? It should be kept in Indian banks. This is one of the promises, made by the BJP and its star campaigner during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Though Modi did not boast that he would fill the bank accounts of the poor people with Rs 15 lakh each, he did assure that the black money stashed away in far off countries would be brought to India and used in the development process.

Ace lawyer Fali Nariman during his tenure as Rajya Sabha member had introduced a Private Member’s Bill for the restitution of the black money to India. It is self explanatory. Nariman’s proposal reads like this: “Steps should start with an enactment (maybe, an ordinance on the day the new Govt. assumes office) that all wealth held in foreign bank accounts, in excess of $100000 should be treated as nationalised and all the account holders’ money should be remitted to Reserve Bank of India with immediate effect thus bringing all these foreign currency monies into India’s financial system. The monies will be held in the accounts holders’ names and they will be given an opportunity to prove bona fide nature of the holdings”. .

Two steps to be initiated by the Government could resolve this issue permanently.

  1. Issue an ordinance the way Indira Gandhi nationalised private banks in 1969.
  2. All monies reverted to India’s financial system should belong to Indian citizens and the owners of the accounts would be given an opportunity to prove the bona fides of the holdings before further transactions are allowed in these accounts.

Aback of the paper calculation shows that a mind boggling $1.4 trillion is stashed away in foreign banks. “Bring it back to India and deploy the same in Mudra Scheme launched by the Prime Minister, the Make in India campaign and Insure the Farmers against crop failure . We can abolish the income tax altogether and earn the blessings of millions of poor people who have to pay the government a per cent from their hard earned savings.

The restitution of the Kala Dhan would also support the Swachh Bharat scheme of the Prime Minister, the National Water Grid and the project to Inter Link major Indian  Rivers. This is the time to unleash the economic potential of the country. There is the law passed by the Swiss Federation namely Restitution /Repayment of illicit wealth. Politically exposed persons are defined under the United Nations Law. The government of India could enact a law and bring back the Kala Dhan stashed away in tax havens abroad”, opines Dr Kalyanaraman who has literally made this campaign his life’s mission.

Jaitley is presenting his third union budget and this could be the last but one chance he is getting to earn the goodwill of the public of the country. If he is going to declare a series of infrastructure projects and welfare schemes, he needs money. Instead of selling off the family silver (which is also known as shares of public sector enterprises) he can mobilise more resources by taking steps to bring black money stored in foreign countries. Jaitley’s time has come and it is time he performed.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 68.63 Rupees.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.

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