Jaitley chooses to present a full
Budget instead of an interim one, he can well announce some radical reforms without worrying about their popular reception. According to an ET online survey, people want the government to introduce more reforms despite disruption caused by demonetisation and introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
A total of 10,506 people were polled online for the survey.
When asked, ‘Does India need more economic reforms?’, 78 per cent respondents said, ‘Yes. A lot more’ while only 19 per cent said the government should consolidate on present reforms instead. 3 per cent were undecided. People expect the next government too to focus on reforming the economy further.
Answering the question, ‘What is your main expectation from the new government that comes to power next year?’, 47 per cent respondents wanted further economic reforms. 35 per cent wanted it to create more jobs, 16 per cent wanted it to give incentives to businesses and small entrepreneurs and only 2 per cent wanted it to waive off farm loans.
According to the survey there is no overwhelming sentiment against disruptive reforms such as demonetisation and GST, which could be the reason behind the demand for more economic reforms. In answer to the question, ‘Has GST overcome initial hiccups?’, 62 per cent said ‘yes’ and 25 per cent said ‘no’. Similarly, majority of the respondents believed demonetisation was not unsuccessful. When asked, ‘Was demonetisation successful?’, 29 per cent said ‘yes’, 35 per cent said ‘partially successful’ and 32 per cent responded in the negative, while 5 per cent were undecided.
Both demonetisation and GST had disrupted businesses, especially medium and small enterprises, and took a heavy toll on jobs. However, demonetisation does not seem to have a negative popular perception, especially among the poor. A few months after the move, the BJP won a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. GST roiled the business sector due to its complex compliance procedures. However, the government has gradually simplified various procedures and offered many exemptions to small businesses.
However, the survey reveals despite an approval for reforms, respondents think that the slowdown has persisted. Respondents cited business slowdown as their biggest economic worry, before jobs, taxes, prices, etc. Perhaps the desire for more reforms is based on the hope that they would fast-track the economy.