Dozens of plans from old budget turn out duds

Govt lines up several new schemes in FY21 budget but dozens from FY20 yet not taken off

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (R) with Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur (L) leave the Indian Finance Ministry for Parliament House to table the General Budget 2019-20 in New Delhi on July 5, 2019. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

Amid a slew of new announcements in the union budget on February 1, a close look at the government papers reveals over a dozen of old ones, announced last year, have not taken off. They are far from being implemented.

Several key proposals for reforms in farm sector, affordable housing, education and the woes of electricity distribution companies, which have impacted their finances, are either lying on the drawing board or are still waiting for the cabinet approval.

For example, the last year's budget had proposed a key reform measure on rental housing laws, which gives sweeping powers in the hands of landlords to evict a tenant, saying it was “archaic”. Realty sector had cheered and common man expected relief after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in 2019 announced A model tenancy law will be finalised and circulated to the states soon”.

The law has not been brought to the union cabinet for approval but a cabinet note is ready, an official told DH.

A scheme to turn around the power distribution sector in states, which in turn became a major cause of financial losses, was proposed to be reviewed “soon” in the last budget with Sitharaman promising to announce structural reforms “soon”. Eight months down the line, its implementation status says, it is under deliberation.

Another measure to help build large public infrastructure and affordable housing, the budget last year had announced sale of land parcels held by the government and loss-making public sector firms. Not even a cabinet note has been prepared to devise a policy on how the government wishes to utilise such land parcels.

A key decision to set up a National Research Fund to promote research in the country was proposed in the July 2019 budget, the latest implementation status says the proposal is still under consideration.

Besides, there are a number of schemes, on which the progress is too slow, for example, setting up of the electronic fund raising platform – a social sector stock exchange – is still a work in progress.

The commitment to increase in minimum public share holding in the listed companies from 25% to 35% has not been completed and the Securities and Echange Board of India is yet to submit a report to the government.