I am sure E. Sreedharan will now heave a sigh of relief (“Maytas loses Metro project in Hyderabad”, Mint, 8 July). Since Day 1, he has said that Maytas should not have been awarded this prestigious contract as the company is not qualified. There’s no doubt that this is a setback for Hyderabad. The Karnataka government must also relook at their award to the firm for construction of two airports in the state. The financial situation of Maytas is well known and it doesn’t make sense to award it any contracts until it comes clean with its finances. As many construction companies are lining up, it won’t be difficult to find fresh bidders for the project.
— Bal Govind
I believe finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has been a very brave man and may deserve a grading of six or eight out of 10 on his Budget. He needs to be praised as life in the administration is neither about semantics, academic excellence nor financial acumen. Both he and the Congress have a lot at stake. They must build up processes to put their gigantic—if not quixotic—plans into faultless execution with assured monitoring by young turks from all parties, who may have sizeable stakes in this national attempt.
The basic village as a unit, the panchayats, the block development officers and the district magistrates need to identify the beneficiaries of all these schemes. They must also ensure the availability of cooperative banks or microfinancing arrangements—and check corruption and leakages which have plagued this country. Mukherjee will need the total participation of a spirited kind to take on and to ensure the delivery of some ideas which haven’t previously been attempted. Knowing our past in governance at all levels, I will be surprised if in three years, 65 paise reach the intended beneficiaries. But I won’t fault Mukherjee if it doesn’t!
— Pradeep Kala
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee presented a well-balanced Budget considering the current scenario. Though the markets have crashed, we cannot draw conclusions that the Budget did not live up to expectations. Instead, the markets may fault him for not doing what they thought. I’m sure the markets will bounce back by the weekend.
Though a fiscal deficit at 6.8% is quite high, Mukherjee says it can be controlled. To me, this Budget is not only a slant on rural growth but also a budget for the “aam aadmi”, on whose back the United Progressive Alliance government came riding into power.
Naturally, Mukherjee has reiterated his government’s commitment to enacting a food security Act to provide for 25kg of rice or wheat at Rs3 a kg to those below the poverty line. His intention is to broaden the base of the highly successful National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by increasing the wages paid under the scheme.
The introduction on a pilot basis in select areas of new schemes on rural development and poverty alleviation is bound to raise the standard of living of the rural poor. The finance minister’s special incentives to villages where scheduled castes form 50% of the population may help them to stand on their own feet.
Overall, it is a good Budget in a period of economic downturn, and I’m sure there is no guarantee that any other finance minister of any other party would have done any better in a slowdown year.
— Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee