Sops were not needed in the Vote on Account and the government has already taken enough steps to tackle the economic crisis right from October,Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said.
“Announcing sops in the interim Budget was not an established parliamentary practice … the government has been reacting to that crisis through multiple channels,and since September up to the second stimulus,a lot of action has been taken and fed into the budget,” Ahluwalia told a television news channel.
It was unavoidable that this would be a Vote-on-Account,he said when asked if he was constrained by constitutional propriety or wanted an opportunity to address those areas of the economy that are under distress.
The VoA gives the government all the flexibility it needs for the first four months of the new financial year since VoA is at a level which reflects much higher level of expenditure,he said,adding that the new government at the time of the regular Budget could put in any extra effort.
“… what we have done if properly implemented and that is there we should concentrate — will inject a huge amount of expenditure into the system,” Ahluwalia said,adding that “it is a complete fallacy to think that when you have got a major global slowdown,you can solve the problem simply by announcing new expenditure.”
Agreeing that the total deficit is 7.8 per cent for the current year,he said,”… the point is if the government would have spent more money is to say that the government should have had a fiscal deficit more than 7.8 per cent”.
He said it was unlikely that the government would have been able to spend extra money in the current year even if provided. “Look at the next year,we have built on a very high level of expenditure for the purpose of the VoA,” he added.
“The Finance Minister had indicated that we need to expand Plan expenditure between half a per cent and one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) – in my view it should be one per cent of GDP,” he said.
On GDP growth next year,Ahluwalia said that a strong stimulus at the time of full Budget,besides other monetary measures,could lead to a growth rate between 6.5 per cent and 7 per cent.