President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament on Monday, which marked the beginning of the Budget session, appealed to all MPs to “discharge their solemn responsibility in a spirit of cooperation and mutual accommodation.”
He underscored the government’s commitment to protect farmers’ interests in the controversial Land Acquisition Act, and spoke about the significance of the Insurance Ordinance.
Indeed, even as the President said the government had “suitably refined” the Land Act to minimise certain procedural difficulties in acquisitions for critical public projects, he stressed that it attached paramount importance to safeguarding the interest of farmers and families affected by such acquisitions.
The Insurance Ordinance, the President said, would “enhance capital availability and ensure better access to insurance services, especially in rural areas and for economically weaker sections.”
The theme running through the President’s hour-long speech was “inclusive growth,” including the progress of the most- vulnerable sections.
He indicated that the upcoming Budget could include corrective measures to reduce wasteful public spending. Prudence in expenditure management was high on the government’s agenda.
Capital markets were upbeat and the external sector was far more resilient, particularly with a moderate current account deficit and a broadly stable rupee. Foreign exchange reserves had been substantially augmented. As a result of the government’s sustained efforts and a series of policy initiatives, the economy was again on the high growth trajectory.
“While my government has intensified efforts to bring greater efficiency and equity into the tax system, prudence in expenditure management is also high on the agenda,” the President said.
Indicating that some reforms could be expected, he said among the measures the government was committed to in order to check black money were the setting up of robust legislative and administrative frameworks.