Ministers, officials hit social media in Budget period

Ministers, officials hit social media in Budget period

 Finance Secretary Ratan P Watal on Sunday said the present government is fully committed to the principle of cooperative federalism, both in the letter and spirit.

He was speaking in an interview for the official YouTube Channel of the Finance Ministry in the run-up to the Union Budget 2016-17, in what appeared to be a departure from the past, when the Finance Ministry abstained from giving interviews or meeting media in the Budget quarantine period.

“So far this fiscal, over Rs 4.11 lakh crore (78.56 per cent of Budget Estimates) has been released to states by way of tax devolution and three more instalments will be released in March 2016 based on the tax collections till then,” Watal said.

His interview comes close on the heels of  Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha tweeting on whether India should tax people to earn more or borrow more to carry out government expenditures.

Prior to that Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said in an interview on YouTube that the Budget may focus on tax simplification and economic growth, and not much on tax exemptions.

Late last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley himself had said the direction of this year’s Budget will be determined by the resources India has, the economy’s growth potential and tax buoyancy. It will not be populist, apparently lifting the veil of secrecy from India’s most secret financial document.

Though there is almost no interface between journalists and the ministers or the government officials, ahead of the Budget, the message about the government’s functioning and even the direction of the upcoming Budget has been reaching the stakeholders through social media and the newly-launched Finance Ministry’s YouTube channel.

Late last year, at a meeting of the Council of Ministers at his residence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked them to “feel upbeat” about what the government was doing.

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