Washington/London: Describing the budget as "pragmatic", noted economist Arvind Panagariya on Thursday said the coverage of 100 million families for expenses up to Rs 5,00,000 under government-funded health care is the most significant programme announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
"For a pre-poll budget, this is an extremely pragmatic budget. Reflecting the timing, the focus is on rural and agricultural economy but no populist schemes that are inconsistent with the country's long-term interest have been launched," Panagariya told PTI.
Former NITI Aayog vice chairman Panagariya is currently professor of economics at the prestigious Columbia University.
"The proposal to coverage of 100 million families for expenses up to Rs 500,000 for in-patient care is perhaps the most significant programme announced. It brings us much closer to universal health coverage", he said.
Panagariya said the NITI Aayog Action Agenda had laid down a road map to shift expenditures towards infrastructure, health and education.
The Union Budget has followed that road map reasonably closely, he said.
On the surface, slippage in fiscal deficit from 3.2 percent to 3.5 percent may seem large, he noted.
"But two factors largely explain it," he explained.
One, indirect taxes have accrued for only 11 months instead of 12 due to the implementation of the GST.
USISPF said the Modi government has recently achieved great success in reforms such as opening up of 100 per cent FDI in retail through automatic route and India is encouraged with a forecast from the Economic Survey of GDP growth from 7 -7.5 per cent for the Fiscal Year 2019.
The annual budget presented by the finance minister reinforced this government's commitment to inclusive development and sustainable job creation.
This was evident from the proposed spending of Rs 14.3 lakh crore on rural infrastructure development, and an outlay of Rs 500,000 per family annually to be given for medical reimbursement under the National Health Protection Scheme, USISPF said.
Updated Date: Feb 01, 2018 22:22:48 IST