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Whetting the Budget (app)etite

V Ranganathan | Updated on January 26, 2021

The Finance Minister while stirring the halwa and bringing it to the right consistency has aroused all our interest by announcing that Budget 2021 will be housed in an ‘app’ (android& ios) . Earlier, the Ministry had announced that the Budget documents will not be the usual booklets but only in electronic format. Delivering the Budget information in an app model is indeed revolutionary.

In the past, with Indian Airlines flying only two flights from Delhi to Madras, those wishing to flaunt the ‘full set’ of Budget document needed to wait till atleast 11 the next morning. Doordarshan was yet to shine light on the Budget and the only the debate on the Budget followed the 9 PM news on radio that usually featured a senior Finance Ministry official. Fiscal deficit was never a headline and the Budget speech then was more a T20 affair and not a test match like recent years. The speeches had very placid endings with no invokings of Urdu, Bengali or Tamil poets.

How can the app concept of presenting the Budget be fully exploited to the gain of the analysts, researchers and even the inquisitive common man?

The more interesting TV debates are the ones where the experts know where exactly the critical assumptions of the Budget are hidden. It would be best that the thunder is stolen from all TV stars by putting more information transparently in public domain. Should the inflation assumption in the Budget be covered in a N 95 mask or should the app actually help a curious student to query ‘what if’ scenarios of how the various components of the Budget can change if economic parameters change on the ground? Let fertile brains conjure up interesting ideas on the technology to actualise the aspirations of the Finance Minster. The app at the minimum should support the million odd hits it may encounter by 2 p.m. on February 1 when hopefully the speech would have ended!

The writer is a Chartered Accountant

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Published on January 26, 2021
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