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Updated: January 24, 2014 11:23 IST

The challenges before Mani

P. Venugopal
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Finance Minister K.M.Mani
The Hindu
Finance Minister K.M.Mani

The Finance Minister will present his 12th Budget in the Assembly today

Finance Minister K.M. Mani will have to surpass himself as a ‘magician with budget intricacies’ as he rises in the State Assembly on Friday to present his 12th Budget for the State government since 1976.

The year ahead will be a challenging one for the veteran. The election-year compulsions weigh heavily on his shoulders—this is not the time to exert too heavy a pressure on the taxpayer; this is also the time for a fresh thrust on welfare measures, price control measures, and forward-marching announcements. At the same time, there is the compulsion to raise the revenues by some means or the other. The receipts during the current financial year till December 2013 had been far below the last Budget projections, indicating a depressing trend.

Recession tendencies, as the official version would have it, have been making an impact on receipts from all sources, including commercial tax, registration tax and, surprisingly, even liquor sales. Concurrently, expenses, including those on out-of-Budget programmes, could not be resisted.

The net result of this double pressure was that the State was compelled to exhaust by December itself almost the entire borrowing limit of Rs.12,000 crore it had been permitted for the financial year.

Hardly 50 per cent of the Plan allocation could be spent by December and, as matters stand at the moment, Plan achievement is set to touch a very low level in the financial year ending this March. But Mr. Mani was confident a couple of days ago confronting questions from the media about the prospects next year. “The demands are high…Don’t worry. My Budget will be a balanced one, addressing the development expectations of the State without burdening the common man,” he had said.

Will the financial expert in him, who had, on an earlier occasion, turned one of his ‘deficit’ Budgets into a ‘surplus’ one with his rhetoric in the Assembly when he propounded a new theory that “deficit is the same as surplus,” bring something out of his hat balancing everything?

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