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Morarji Desai’s budget presented on 29 February 1968, was hailed as ‘people’s budget’
Morarji Desai’s budget presented on 29 February 1968, was hailed as ‘people’s budget’

1968-69: People’s Budget

Mint picks 10 budgets which stand out for one or the other of these reasons

Historically, budgets fall in two buckets. Those that are situational—dominated by an unravelling challenge and, hence, largely reactionary—and the few out-of-the-box essays seeking to reset the economic agenda. Mint picks 10 budgets which stand out for one or the other of these reasons.

Morarji Desai’s budget presented on 29 February 1968, was hailed as ‘people’s budget’. It was presented at a time when the country was hit by droughts, shortage of food, and inflation. Desai went on to present 10 Union budgets—the most by any finance minister.

■ The budget dropped the arcane rule of assessment by the excise department that resulted in complaints of abuse. Instead, Desai introduced self-assessment, placing trust in the manufacturers.

■ Desai’s budget estimated revenue receipts for the fiscal at 3,132 crore, or 138 crore more than FY68’s revised estimates. This was based on a potential rise of 86 crore due to excise duties.

■ Desai also withdrew ‘spouse allowance’. “In a situation where both husband and wife are taxpayers, it would be improper for any outsider to decide as to who is dependent on whom," he had said.

■ Despite being an advocate of avoiding deficit financing, Desai projected 1968-69 would end with a deficit of 300 crore due to overdrafts of states to the tune of 113 crore.

■ The budget offered relief by classifying short-term capital gains as gains arising from the sale or transfer of capital assets within 24 months of their acquisition, as against the then period of 12 months.

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