DailyPost 2018

How much of economics is a part of our national debates? How many economists of repute and demonstrated capability are guiding the public finances of the country? Economics can remain subservient to politics but the rules of politics cannot become the rules of governing an economy of even the crudest variety. One thought imparted to those who join the government and have to handle public finance is that it should be used as a man of normal common sense would use his money. The analogy of a home maker managing her finances can be eye opener, for those who manage public finances. You can ask all elected representatives in this country at any level about the state of public finances and you find them struggling for an answer.

Take a fair call on how much time, effort and expertise is consumed in economic planning, fiscal management and for monitoring and making correctional financial action conclusively happen. Budget allocation and financial powers (power to procure), the political executive and even the elected representatives find it as a great way of defining their power and authority. If politics is disconnected with the financial powers, de jure or de facto to splurge, there would be no politics in this country. Sri Lanka did not happen in a day. There would have been inklings of it for long but busy in politicking and in the cosy corners they occupy, the only feeling one gets is that everything is fine, and if something is getting into any disarray, it can be set right, till the time it really goes out totally out of hand.

The economics of nothing is the political economics of India, notwithstanding the political parties that come to power and then are forced out of it. Try to think of any government which has excelled in the economic administration of this country, in case you have heard of this terminology. The country has been brought to a khatabook, of receipt and expenditure. Basing oneself on expenditure budgeting while the world has moved on to program budgeting to make a much better sense of the whole budgetary mechanism and be in control of economic growth. Two scenarios would make things very clear, if the return on investment of the public sector would have been even ten percent and that too after the gestation period, it could have funded at least half of the economic development of the nation. No economic reality is either captured or calculated with finality in this country.

The constitution did not mandate loss-making public sectors. Nor did it mandate non-performing assets of the public sector banks, courtesy the ever efficient and smart private sector. When govt. businesses and public sector banks do not run on economic principles, then what would be our fate? Can anyone give us the economic trajectory of the nation, but for data being thrown on our face from different points of views. What has been the economic impact of the freebie culture, which has become the backbone of Indian politics? What a non-economic environment does it create in the whole system? Free ration is an indicator of the economic health of the nation. How many states have any semblance of economic and fiscal management left? Every government leaves a bigger debt for the subsequent one. Left to their own plight, at least half a dozen of them would mirror Sri Lanka in no time.

Sanjay Sahay

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