Most work on the Budget had already been done before he came on board as Interim Finance Minister, Piyush Goyal told BusinessToday.In in a post-Budget interview. "Obviously, the Budget's work starts much earlier. Prime Minister Modi was very clear in his vision for the country. Mr Modi and Mr Jaitley would have by and large finalised most things."
The decision to focus on sops for farmers, working class and SMEs "was all by and large decided by my leaders before I came on board", says Goyal who was informed on Wednesday night that he would be presenting the Budget the following Friday on February 1. "Mr Jaitley, despite his health, was like a brother holding my hand and guiding me all the way through. He defined the broad framework in which I had to speak. He guided me right until the previous night and up to the morning of the Budget," says Goyal who got 8 days to prepare his Budget speech.
Implementing the direct benefit transfer scheme under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan), however, will need active support of state governments, largely because not every state has digitised farm holdings data ready yet. "Major portion of the data would be with the state government. The scheme at present is focusing on those who own the land. Critics are not seeing what this scheme will do. This will benefit 12 crore farmers," says Goyal.
He clarified that PM-Kisan may not be seen as a step towards universal basic income, as recommended by the Economic Survey of 2016-17. Instead, Goyal said, the scheme is an act of gratitude towards the farmer. "This is the respect we are extending to the marginal farmers and small landholders of our country. These farmers are facing adversities, yet are contributing to our nation. They are ensuring our food security. This step is required to be seen from this perspective. This is not a replacement of MSP or any other income source. This will give them some cash in hand to pay for some emergent need."