How Union Budget 2022 is as practical an exercise as it is visionary

By Bibek Debroy

Every time there is a Budget, questions are asked about what the Budget has for the common man, or common woman. Those who appear on TV channels are not the common person, by no stretch of the imagination. The only person who has ever defined the common person satisfactorily is RK Laxman. The expression “middle class” is equally vague and ambiguous.

Article 112 of the Constitution requires an annual financial statement to be laid before Parliament, an annual statement of Union government’s receipts and expenditure. Union Budget is just that and no more. Especially since 1991, Union Budgets have been, however, perceived to be more. They are statement of Union government’s intent, on policy changes and reforms. In passing, not enough attention is paid to state government budgets, where bulk of expenditure actually takes place. Also in passing, this Budget has enhanced assistance to states for capital investments. Post-1991, policies and Budgets have been about reforms, however that expression is defined. So far as Budgets are concerned, the word reform implies transparency and stability about taxes and expenditure.

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