New Delhi, Mar 18: Faced with criticism that his Budget was a lost opportunity, a candid Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said he was “extra-careful” because of political compulsions in Parliament, even as he stressed the problem of rising fuel subsidies has to be tackled head-on.
“... knowing the mood of the persons who matter here (in Parliament), I had to be extra careful and I had to make my colleagues extra careful. Therefore, many of things which could have been done, rather should have been done, could not be done just at the time of the Budget,” he said in his customary post-Budget meeting with industry leaders here.
Pointing out that the policy shifts among political parties are taking place quickly, the Minister said, he had to keep in mind the prevailing ground reality that a “decision taken in one House is reversed or changed within 24 hours, when the same proposal approved by one House comes to the other House”.
The UPA coalition, which has difficult partners like Trinamool Congress, does not have a clear majority in the Rajya Sabha.
The Finance Minister said the government will have to take the issue of rising fuel subsidies head on with the support of political parties and the state governments.
As the amount for major subsidies including food, fuel and fertiliser at Rs 1.79 lakh crore for 2012-13 has been pegged at lower level than the current year's Rs 2.08 lakh crore, he indicated that the government may be compelled to go in for market adjusted prices of diesel and cooking gas.
“I know there are certain sectors, where we shall have to address and budgetary exercise is not the only exercise. There are other administrative and outside Budget decisions are to be taken ... bringing the political parties, state government on board and that cannot be only through Budgetary exercise”.