Politics has tied my hands, says Pranab

Politics has tied my hands, says Pranab

Admits he could have done many things in the Budget

Admitting that he could have done “many things” in the Budget, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said he was “extra careful” because of political compulsions in Parliament.

Reacting to strong criticism that Budget was a lost opportunity in raining in increasing fuel subsidies, the minister said: “... knowing the mood of the persons who matter here (in Parliament), I had to be extra careful and I had to make my colleagues extra careful.

Therefore, many of things which could have been done, rather should have been done, could not be done just at the time of the Budget,” he said in his customary post-Budget meeting with industry leaders here.

Pointing out that policy shifts among political parties are taking place, the minister said, he had to keep in mind the prevailing ground reality that a “decision taken in one House is reversed or changed within 24 hours, when the same proposal approved by one House comes to the other House.”

The UPA coalition, which has difficult partners like Trinamool Congress, does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha. The finance minister said the government will have to take the issue of rising fuel subsidies head on with the support of political parties and the state governments.

He indicated that the government may be compelled to go in for market-adjusted prices of diesel and cooking gas in order to bring down subsidies. The amount for major subsidies including food, fuel and fertiliser have been pegged at Rs 1.79 lakh crore for 2012-13, lower than the current year's Rs 2.08 lakh crore

“I know there are certain sectors, where we shall have to address and budgetary exercise is not the only exercise. There are other administrative and outside Budget decisions are to be taken ... bringing the political parties, state government on board and that cannot be only through budgetary exercise.”

On the delay in according approval to mega projects, the finance minister said the government is making efforts to reduce the time lag in clearing the proposals.

Finance Secretary R S Gujral said the government’s decision to amend  I-T Act with retrospective effect would not impact foreign investment flows. As per the amendment proposed in the    I-T Act by the finance minister on Friday, all persons, whether resident or non-residents, having business connection in India will have to deduct tax at source and pay it to the government even if the transaction is executed on a foreign soil.

 

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