By Anindya Banerjee for IANS
NEW DELHI: Seventy two hours from now, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Union Budget, 2020 . What is interesting to know is that there is a "fantastic four", who have been giving critical feedback to the Finance Minister on what the budget should be and specifically, which sectors deserve more allocations. From suggestions like which subsidies should be given or withdrawing, they have been instrumental in shaping the Budget quite as much as the bureaucrats at North Block.
1. Gopal Krishna Agarwal: This BJP spokesperson has been steering the economic wing of the BJP. A Director of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and a former director of the Bank of Baroda, Agarwal has been the nucleus of budgetary preparation for Sitharaman this year. He worked as an interface between the industry and the Finance Minister this year. For the first time, the party held background talks with industry experts and representatives to understand what they need to activate growth. According to him, 200 individuals from different sectors took part in this year's meeting.
2. Dr. Syed Zafar Islam: Another BJP spokesperson, he is a former Managing Director, Deutsche Bank who is tasked by the BJP leadership to give his continuous inputs to the budget that are eventually presented to Sitharaman. A former investment banker, he is currently a Director of the national carrier Air India. So how does it work? "There is no structured mechanism," replies Islam, before adding the "senior leadership" asked him to share his "vision for the budget" within the party. On being asked to elaborate what his suggestions were, Islam was candid. "We have very limited room to manoeuvre, given the committed expenditure in India. But whatever resources are left in the budget that can be spent somewhere, the idea is to use it equally for the rural sector, poor and the middle class."
3. Narendra Taneja: Taneja is not just a BJP spokesperson but trusted voice in the energy sector. He is the Head of the BRICS Business Council and the President of World Energy Policy Summit. That is why the BJP used his expertise this year in the run-up to the Budget. Taneja said that the government needs to spend more. That is to say broadly. But on specifics, the rural economy needs more attention that urban economy. The demand is lacking. Recreating rural demand is the key. Specific suggestions are handed over to the Finance Minister and among them are water conservation projects within villages, and rural infrastructure projects. "Idea is to create jobs, give money in the hands of villagers and arrest migration from villages," he reasoned.
4. Amit Malviya: While most know him as the national social media head of the BJP, Malviya has spent a considerable amount of his professional life in the banking sector. That is the reason he has been a part of this pre-budget exercise that went for months. Malviya says that the macro indicators are good for India. However, some specific suggestions went to Sitharaman. Sources say a substitution for import of major items was an idea that was floated. "India imports so much of electrical goods. We also import buttons that we wear on our shirts. Manufacturing them in India will not only add value to tech 'Make in India' programme but also boost domestic business," he said. Meanwhile, Malviya requested the FM to instill confidence in the banking sector. Elaborating on the suggestion, the source added: "Right now, many banks fear lending money. They fear being subject to probes later on. But bringing a transparent system where the bank can lend freely will bring liquidity in the market."