The bicycle theory of the 2023 Budget

Lowering the fiscal deficit to sustainable levels will be the biggest challenge for the government, but there are enough reasons for it to keep pedalling hard

Pranjul Bhandari

Illustration: Binay Sinha

“It never gets easier; you just go faster”

— Greg LeMond, pro road-racing cyclist

The government’s push to cut the fiscal deficit will require a herculean effort over the next few years. Think of it like a long-distance cyclist that needs to keep pedalling hard to reach the finish line no matter what the weather conditions are or how challenging the course.

Still, each of the Budgets in the last three years has championed big changes. The one presented in early 2020 quantified off-budget spending. The 2021 Budget focused on repaying the large dues owed to the Food Corporation of India. The 2022 Budget chose conservative revenue estimates over rich ones, a strategy that provided some headroom to deal with shocks like soaring commodity prices. Alongside, government capex continued to rise over these three years.

So what will 2023 bring? We believe the Budget should champion a lower fiscal deficit
Disclaimer: These are personal views of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or the Business Standard newspaper

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First Published: Jan 18 2023 | 10:22 PM IST

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