Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Budget and reforms

Another budget will be upon us in a month or so. One of my secret fantasies is to flee town and head for some place that lacks TV around budget day. Then, I will be spared the cacophony that erupts at budget time.

Budget time is big money for the media. They create the hoopla around the budget and profit immensely from it. Live budgetary analysis is not terribly educative. You can't react to any of the numbers put out by the FM until you have had a chance to put them on a spread sheet and compare like with like in the previous year. But before people have had a chance to do that, instant wisdom will have been delivered on TV. So heavy is the overkill that informed analysis that comes a few days later in newspapers or journals is lost on the public.

Well, anyway, now that another budget is on its way, the clamour for "reforms" has begun. The argument is that the government could not push ahead with "reforms" the last time thanks to the benighted Left but now there are "no more excuses". Sorry to play spoilsport, but it appears those who clamour thus haven't read the Congress manifesto. It is reformist to my mind but the reforms it talks about are not the ones that pro-market enthusiasts have in mind- cuts in subsidies, labour market reforms, privatisation, financial sector reforms, FDI etc.

The Congress appears to have learnt from the defeat of the BJP and the lesson will have been reinforced by its own performance this time- "reforms" that the media and the business community clamour for are not vote-catching propositions. My guess is that those who are talking up the stock markets in anticipation of "big bang" reforms are in for a disappointment.

More on this in my last column, Redefining the reform agenda.

1 comment:

Azure said...

Your prediction came true. :)
Hats off!