The Union Budget 2022 has received various mixed reactions from experts and politicians. With some initiatives being largely appreciated, the people have voiced several criticisms.
Various positive points in the Budget
Ranging from the 5G auction to be conducted in 2022 to the announcement of the National Tele Mental Health Programme, experts and the people have welcomed several moves.
The government's announcement of digital technologies in the education sector has been widely appreciated due to the education gap induced due to Covid-19 and education being shifted to online methods. The Budget stated that the 'one class-one TV channel' programme of PM eVIDYA would be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels to enable supplementary education in regional languages for classes 1-12.
The Budget stated that a Digital University would be established to extend world-class education for all and provide a personalized learning experience at students' doorsteps.
National Tele Mental Health Programme
The announcement of the National Tele Mental Health Programme has been taken well by the people. In a first, the government has addressed the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of people of all ages. A network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence under NIMHAMS has been announced with IIIT-Bangalore to provide technical support through this initiative.
5G Auctions & Increased Connectivity
5G auctions are to be held this year and carried out by private companies who will rollout the faster telecom network. Moreover, a scheme for design-led manufacturing will be launched to build a robust ecosystem for 5G as part of the Production Linked Incentive Scheme. The government has announced an extension of e-services, communication facilities and digital resources to villages. The Budget stated that the contracts for laying optical fibre in all villages, including remote areas, will be awarded under the Bharatnet project through PPP in 2022-2023.
Vande Bharat Trains
The PM Gati Shakti plan has been stated as one of the Budget priorities towards economic growth and sustainable development. In her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that around 400 new generation Vande Bharat trains will be operational in the upcoming three years. 'One Station-One Product' idea for the railways to help local business and supply chains were also announced.
E-Passports & Digital Banking
The budget speech emphasized digital banking, digital payments, and fintech innovations. The government has proposed to set up 75 Digital Banking Units (DBUs) in 75 districts of the country by Scheduled Commercial Banks.
Moreover, it stated that e-passports would be issued with embedded chips, and the futuristic technology will be rolled out in 2022-23 to enhance convenience for the citizens in their overseas travel.
Energy & Climate Action
The Budget stated measures like clean and sustainable mobility, aiming to promote a shift to public transport in urban areas through cleantech and governance solutions, special mobility zones with zero fossil-fuel policies and EV vehicles. Battery swapping policy was another announcement to address the lack of space for charging stations.
Talking about solar power, an additional allocation of Rs. 19500 crore for Production Linked Incentive to manufacture high-efficiency modules, with priority to fully integrated manufacturing units from polysilicon to solar PV modules, will be made. This is being done to facilitate domestic manufacturing for the ambitious goal of 280 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030.
The Budget has been criticized for not addressing the condition of the poor people in the country, wherein the pandemic has been a significant blow to their survival. It has been said that with a capitalist approach, the budget will make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.
Farm unions disappointed
Farm unions have been disappointed with the Budget, and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha has called the budget 'anti-farmer'. Farm unions have stated that there has been a reduction in the share of agriculture and allied activities in the Budget to 3.8 per cent from 4.3 per cent last time, as reported by Financial Express. They have further discussed the preparation of a struggle over minimum support price and other issues.
Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP, has criticized the Budget by stating that it is 'extremely disappointing'. "There is no mention of MGNREGA, or defence, or any other urgent priorities facing the public," NDTV reported.
"We are facing terrible inflation, and there is no tax relief for the middle class. This is a budget that seems to be pushing the mirage of 'acche din' even farther away," he added.
Termed As Capitalist Budget
Moreover, the Budget has been criticized for being the most capitalist Budget until now, with little or negligible mention of poor people. P Chidambaram, former Finance Minister, stated, "Today's Budget speech was the most capitalist speech ever read by a Finance Minister."
He has expressed concern over the Budget, which has not paid much attention to the poor. "The FM has mastered the jargon of capitalist economics. Read her speech again, count the number of times she used the words digital, portal, IT-based, paperless, database, ecosystem, global, Atmanirbhar. The word 'poor' occurs twice in paragraph six, and we thank the FM for remembering that there are poor people in this country," he said as reported by The Indian Express.
The Hospitality Industry Expected More
The hospitality industry has termed the Budget as gravely disappointing. According to them, the measures announced by FM Sitharaman were not enough to support the sector that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic, as reported by The Hindu. Even though the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) has been extended till March 2023, easing current liquidity issues for some businesses, the National Restaurant Association of India seems to be unhappy as there were no specific regulations announcements for the restaurant industry.
Leaders have criticized the Budget for some projects that could harm the ecology wherein the Budget had stated that climate action would be a significant priority. Jairam Ramesh, Congress leader, stated that the government, on the one hand, talks about environment protection while on the other, they have pushed for disastrous river-linking projects.
Crypto & Digital Currencies
With the announcement of the digital currency from April 1, the budget speech has indicated that India is closer to incorporating cryptocurrencies and will keep up with the global move toward digital assets. Imposing a 30 per cent tax on the transfer of virtual digital assets has received mixed responses.
Darshan Bathija, co-founder and chief executive officer of Vauld, a crypto exchange platform, said, "Imposing the tax rate makes crypto trading official now, and any concern of a ban is off the table. Still, the relatively high tax rate could prompt traders to move to platforms in other countries, which would reduce revenue for the Indian government," as reported by NDTV.
Hence, the Budget with a vision of 25 years for the 'Amrit Kaal' has been welcomed for some fresh moves while it has been criticized for not addressing the current issues faced by the country people and economy. The effectiveness of the announcements only can be assessed in future to understand how beneficial the Budget could be for the country.
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