Touria Prayag's Blog

Budget speech survival guide 31 October 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 23, 2015

Budget! That time of year again when you allow the minister of fi nance to bore you to tears for three long hours, eat your
main course and gives you the privilege of thanking him for the meagre dessert he served to make your labous doux.
But you must admire the style! First, the minister of fi nance struts in slowly with his wife and poses for the dozens of
photographers eagerly awaiting his arrival. Then, he delves into the achievements of the government and dwells
lengthily on each. This year, expect the investment in infrastructure, particularly roads and the new terminal – admittedly
fi rst class, let’s be honest – to take up a good chunk of the speech. He will, after that long and lengthy part,
announce some measures which will make no immediate sense to you but which will, somehow, make you feel good.
If the minister of fi nance leaves you doubtful about whether this budget will change your life, his colleagues
will chip in to erase any doubts on your mind. They will utter all kinds of sounds of appreciation – ah, oh,
yeah – and tap the tables enough times to leave you feeling like an idiot if you did not take the full measure
of how good this budget is for you.
The next day is even harder to survive and takes some skills to cope with. Here are some tips to help you
through the day:
1. A lot of analysis by all sorts of ‘experts’ will follow the budget speech. Don’t let the jargon confuse you. Go over last
year’s after-budget comments and you will sound as much of an expert as any expert around. They are identical!
2. Or play it safe and stick to two comments. If you are on the side of the minister of fi nance, say something like,
“It is a social budget which will lift people out of poverty”. You can’t go wrong. Everybody knows that the only
thing which lifts people out of poverty is themselves but everyone will admire your insight anyway. If you are on
the other side, keep repeating: “It’s a budget with no vision.” You are sure to strike a chord. I have never heard
of a budget which has vision and, at any rate, vision is something so diffi cult to defi ne that no one can prove you
wrong.
3. Alternatively, you can say that this budget is similar to last year’s. In many ways, it always is. I mean how
many economic policies are out there to choose from? You might sound a bit smarter by saying it is old
merchandise repackaged.
4. When you comment on the budget, always lift your head up so that you are looking down on the rest of the mortals
who know nothing about economics. If you can fi t in some high-sounding economic speak, you will complete the
picture. Here’s a list to choose from: ‘seasonal adjustment factors’, ‘defi cit funding stimulus’, ‘resource gap’, ‘bubble
economy’, ‘asset price infl ation’, ‘Gini Coeffi cient’. You can sound more intelligent if you pepper your comments
with some nice expressions used by people more learned than yourself like ‘jawboning’, ‘irrational exuberance’,
‘animal spirits’… Don’t bother looking them up. Ah, and don’t forget the blue economy. It’s very fashionable so
both sides will milk it dry.
5. Breathe in extensively. Not only is oxygen good in stressful times but it is also still free and therefore
not likely to be taxed.
6. Do some relaxation exercises. The complaints of the rich and the satisfaction of the poor are equally depressing.
Everyone thinks their lives have changed in some way. Yet, no one remembers what measures were taken during
last year’s budget. All the rich remember is that tiny tax on alcohol. The poor have a vague memory of a feel-good
factor created by the labous doux. Sugar always has that effect.

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