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    BUDGET 1999
    BUDGET 98-99
    BUDGET 97-98


Better than last time, but still a gamble
Can growth rates pick up? Can the government be downsized? Can swadeshi and videshi be welded for economic harmony? Paranjoy Guha Thakurta takes a close look at the fineprint of Budget 1999-2000.

Three reasons why investors don't fancy India any more
It is not only foreigners who are unimpressed by the Budget, but the Indian investors too. Project after project is being shelved across the country, says Jay Dubashi.

Second impressions: Budget brings bread and butter issues into sharp focus
The continuation of liberalisation and implicit rejection of the mantras of the swadeshi lobby is a feature of the Budget that bodes well for industrial growth in the immediate future, says Dilip Thakore.

Sinha's 3-F formula
'Yashwant Sinha's second Budget is tailored to meet the doubts of foreign investors. It is, in fact, an anti-swadeshi Budget, a word he does not even mention in his speech. He does not mention foreign investment either, but everything in the Budget is tailored to their requirements,' says Jay Dubashi.

Caught in a steel trap
'The big question is whether the unstable BJP-led government can act on and administer the good plans outlined in the Budget. If the mess it has made with its bold plans to privatise the bleeding public sector is any indication, highly unlikely,' says Dilip Thakore.

Little to cheer
'The indirect tax revenue projections went haywire last year. They hoped on growth, which didn't materialise. Hoping on growth may not materialise this year either,' says Bibek Debroy.

This Budget is probably the least inflationary over the past decade
'The government did not want to take chances of slapping new indirect imposts on the recession-hit industry, worsen its plight and trigger a wave of price increases to the detriment of the economy.' R C Murthy assesses the Budget.

A true Vajpayee-Sinha Budget
'The economy would be better served if the finance minister stopped constantly peering at the stock market monitor and spent more time reading the notes and papers produced by the ministry and the RBI,' says Mohan Guruswamy.

Don't expect Sinha to come up with a path-breaking Budget
'The finance minister has to effect bold and unheard-of economies in expenditure and tap unheard-of sources in raising revenue. Putting the enlarged kitty to gainful use is only the second part of the exercise,' says Arvind Lavakare.

Time for tough measures to tackle fiscal travails
An administration that is squabbling over small issues like fertiliser subsidy cannot muster courage to tackle tougher issues like rupee devaluation. Tighter policies will have to be in place to keep domestic prices on the leash, writes R C Murthy.

Last chance for Sinha to right economic blunders
For 50 years, the neta-babu combine kept education in the footnotes of India's economic agenda. This year, the Finance Bill should provide for sale of PSUs lock, stock and barrel to raise resources for social infrastructure. Else, this will be the BJP's last Budget, writes Dilip Thakore.

Budgets must be forward-looking. Are they?
The budget by its very nomenclature is to be forward looking. In the sense that it deals with spending over the following 12 months. In practice, the policy decisions announced in the Budget are being acted upon at the fag end of the year, points out R C Murthy.