Following is the text of the Prime
Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s interview on the Union Budget to
Q. This is the first budget of this new administration presumably the
first of the five budgets. To what extent does this fulfil the
election promises and what will it do for the aam aadmi?
The focus of the budget is to ensure that the short term requirements
of the economy are reconciled with the medium term goals of our social
and economic policies. Right now, the major concern is to minimise the
impact of the international recession on the Indian economy. And for
that it is necessary to provide stimulus to our economy - that process
began in December last year. This budget carries that process further.
At the same time, there are medium term concerns that the growth
momentum of the economy must be restored notwithstanding the decline
in the international demand for our exports. The road to do that is to
strengthen infrastructure investment both in the public sector and in
the private sector through the PPP route. The budget does that
admirably well. And then simultaneously it also seeks to carry forward
the process of inclusive growth, its expenditure programmes take care
of our major flagship programmes, Bharat Nirman, National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act programmes, the Urban Renewal Mission, the
Rural Health Mission. All these programmes receive handsome additional
allocations. So, I believe the Finance Minister has done an admirable
job, as I said we will be reconciling with the requirements, short
term requirements of the economy with the medium term goals of our
economic and social policy, of the commitments that we have made to
our people in our election manifesto.
Q. What will this do for people in rural areas
It is essentially a rural development oriented budget. A record
increase in allocation for National Rural Employment Guarantee Fund,
increased money for irrigation benefit schemes, the Bharat Nirman
programme which seeks to upgrade and modernise rural infrastructure.
These are all programmes which will primarily benefit our rural areas
and reduce the gap between Bharat and India.
Q. At the same time, there is new urban
emphasis. The Urban Mission has a huge increase of 86% in the outlay.
The Urban Mission focuses on the infrastructure needs of our cities.
We have identified 60 cities, probably we need to relook at the number
in due course of time. Simultaneously the emphasis on basic amenities
for the poorer section, the slum free India commitment also is taken
Q. Food security Act. Any outlay for the
Well it is too early because the whole Act has to be put in place. As
the Finance Minister mentioned we will soon come out with a draft that
will be put on the website. We will invite large scale discussions
with interested groups, civil societies and other groups and it is
only then we can translate the inclusion of this legislation into an
Act of Parliament.
Q. State subsidy to foodgrains.
If we go by the number of people, who the Planning Commission records
as people below the poverty line, I think the outlay on the Centre
even if we provide grains at Rs.3, additional outlay is within the
limits of practical politics. But if we go by the much larger figure
of people below the poverty line which are floating around, I think
then there will be some problem. We will sort out these problems. The
commitment has to be honoured. And we will honour it in a credible
Q. More public ownership, any targets for PSU
I haven’t done any detailed calculation. The Finance Minister has
committed our Government to increased disinvestment while maintaining
the public sector character of public enterprises. Much depends upon
the evolving economic situation, the state of the stock markets. So I
think no figure has been mentioned by the Finance Minister in the
Q. Economic Survey suggests 25,000 crore per
Well, Economic Survey is a forward looking document.
Q. Stock market reactions somewhat down, fiscal
deficit high, any deadline to get back to FRBM targets?
This is a matter which the Government has also referred to the Finance
Commission for advise. The Finance Commission will be reporting in the
month of October. Unless we take into account the recommendations of
the Finance Commission, anything by way of new deadlines, of what we
achieve, will be counterproductive. So once the Finance Commission’s
report is available, once the devolution pattern that they recommend
is known for the next five years, it is only then that you can make
credible guesses and work out credible strategies, how to handle the
problem of fiscal deficit. I recognise this is an important problem in
the medium term we have to return to the path of fiscal rectitude and
the Finance Minister has committed our Government to that.
Q. Would 2011 be a reasonable date?
I would like to look at the report of the Finance Commission.
Q. Is Goods and Services Tax possible by April
It is important that the Government should reaffirm its commitment. If
in the process of implementation there are some difficulties, they
could be taken care of. But if right from the beginning, we work with
the assumption that a lazy effort is called for, I think that could be
Q. Administrative Reforms?
The Administrative Reforms Commission has produced 15 voluminous
reports. I am contemplating to set up an empowered group of Ministers
to apply themselves as to how we can implement this voluminous
document that has been produced by ARC.
Q. What about the Security aspect?
We don’t have adequate number of policemen. Police forces in our
country are under staffed. Security forces need our understanding and
support. We will do all that is necessary to modernise the security
and intelligence services. And that is a commitment which is essential
to deal with problems of development. Law and order is a prerequisite
task for development. So the security forces requirements,
modernisation of our police force, modernisation of our intelligence
agencies is a must.
Courtesy: Press Information Bureau