NEW DELHI: The opposition arguments on the Budget were led by Congress stalwarts P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh in Rajya Sabha on Monday with the former ministers saying the economy had not received the attention it demanded in the light of the current growth slowdown.
Chidambaram said the economy was like a patient in a general ward attended to by “very incompetent doctors” when it should really be wheeled into the ICU and “treated” with solutions aimed at reviving aggregate demand and incentivising investment. Initiating the debate, the senior Congress MP underlined that rising unemployment and falling consumption were making India poorer.
Jairam acknowledged that the Budget had, for the first time, placed off-Budget amounts under scrutiny but complained it did not easily offer comparisons between current allocations and previous Budget estimates and revised estimates. “It is only when this happens that the Budget becomes transparent,” he said. He added increasing number of tax slabs only complicated matters, though the idea of proceeding to taxation without exemptions was sound.
Alleging that the government did not have enough money to spend, Chidambaram said tax collections totalled a mere Rs 9 lakh crore this fiscal against Rs 16.49 lakh crore promised, and expenditure was Rs 11.78 lakh crore against the promised Rs 27.86 lakh crore. “You ask us to believe that at the end of the year, you will spend Rs 27 lakh crore,” he said. “The entire Budget hinges around Rs 2.10 lakh crore from disinvestment and a massive privatisation of LIC and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and depends upon foreign investment,” Ramesh said adding the Budget was not “aspirational”.


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