Budget Speech - PART A
I rise to present the Budget for the year 1997-98.
- The government headed by Prime Minister Shri Deve Gowda completes 9 months today. When I stood before this House on July 22, 1996, this House received my proposals with a mixture of wonder, curiosity and scepticism. I was, after all, the Finance Minister of the first genuine coalition government at the Centre. I was also the first Finance Minister who belonged to an avowed regional party, albeit with a national outlook.
- Hon'ble Members will indulge me for a few minutes while I reflect on those eventful days in May 1996. One national party acknowledged that it had lost its claim to form the government. Another tried, but failed. It is in that situation that regional parties, and certain parties with a larger national presence, came together to form the United Front government. These parties long regarded as children of a lesser God have demonstrated that, given the opportunity, they can form a government not only at the State level but also at the Centre. Inspired by the idea of a truly cooperative federal polity, Chief Ministers have assembled, more often than ever before, at the Inter-State Council, the National Development Council and at Special Conferences to formulate national policies. The formation of the government by the United Front and our efforts to take decisions by a national consensus, in the fiftieth year of India's independence, have deepened and broadened Indian democracy.
- Hon'ble Members will find that there is a strong continuity between my first Budget and the present one. The foundation of the Budget remains the Common Minimum Programme. The experience of the last eight months has demonstrated the enormous strengths of the programme. Drawing on the CMP, my first Budget articulated seven broad objectives. These objectives embraced vital elements such as growth, basic minimum services, employment, macroeconomic stability, investment (particularly in infrastructure), human development and a viable balance of payments. I believe these objectives remain as valid today as they were eight months ago.
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