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Shanker Chakravarty/The Hindu

Make (Or Break) In India: Down to Earth special issue ahead of the Union Budget

The Union Budget 2015-2016 will be presented in amid dwindling fortunes of the NDA government. Agriculture is already on a downswing while the economic slowdown is perceptible – all this when nine states are going to polls in 2016-17. Down to Earth presents a series of analyses of the  Union Budget from the environment and development perspectives.

Down to Earth

The Union Budget 2015-16 reflects the pressures being faced by the Government. Down to Earth presents analyses that capture the influencers for the Union Budget. These include analyses of the budget from the environment and development perspectives, the dwindling secrecy around the ‘confidential’ budget document due to pressures even though an external report says the budget is still shrouded in secrecy and is low on public participation. Many other stories have been featured on the Down to Earth website.

The stories

It is official: The monsoon is the chief finance minister of India
Even before the Economic Survey for 2015-16 could be uploaded on to the official site, headlines screamed seemingly good news: India’s economy would grow by 7.75 per cent. On Friday, after the survey was released, a careful reading of the document revealed an admission. The survey has made it clear that the economy would only grow at up to 7.5 per cent provided there is a normal monsoon in 2016. Otherwise, the growth forecast is 7 per cent, less than the last fiscal year.

A Mea Culpa budget
Never before has a government made such a well-scripted disclosure of the country’s most guarded political document, the Union Budget. And the move is due to both political and economic exigencies. Read the analysis here:

The unbearable burden of 2015
The first full budget of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) last year did not make any bold reform attempts nor did it articulate focus areas for the government. As the Narendra Modi government prepares for the 2016 Budget, here is a look at developments that will shape the Centre’s spending next year.  Read the analysis here:

Central concerns
In a bid to give more fiscal autonomy to states, the Centre in the last budget gave them a higher share in Union tax receipts. Has this helped the states?

Economic Survey tells government to utilise public finance to combat climate change
Green finance from private sources is not available so the government must leverage public finance to stop global warming

Economic Survey recommends using MGNREGA to revive water bodies
Revival will lead to an increase in the net irrigation potential

Fiscal branch
For the first time, the 14th Finance Commission gave forests weightage in determining states’ share in the Union tax revenue. Whether this will aid conservation remains to be seen.

‘India budget weak in public participation; limited in transparency’
The Open Budget Survey 2015, released by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in September last year, gave India 46 out of 100 on the transparency count. The country’s performance in terms of public participation and budget oversight by the legislature was rated “weak” in the survey.

A step-by-step guide on how the Union budget is formulated

For complete coverage, please visit www.downtoearth.org.in


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