Budget debate: Opposition attacks Centre over welfare, unemployment

BL New Delhi Bureau | Updated on: Feb 09, 2022
Congress Leader Kapil Sibal speaks in the Rajya Sabha

Congress Leader Kapil Sibal speaks in the Rajya Sabha | Photo Credit: -

Opposition questioned a number of provisions and the statements in the Budget

The Union Budget came under heavy criticism from the Opposition in Rajya Sabha for ignoring important issues afflicting the masses such as unemployment and price rise and decreasing allocation for social sector schemes such as the MGNREGS.

In the second day of discussions on general Budget, the Opposition questioned a number of provisions and the statements in the Budget, but the ruling party dismissed the concerns on the ground that the budget had ways to address such issues and generate employment.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said words such as unemployment, poverty, food security, informal sector, migrants, daily wagers, health for all, welfare, social protection, women, youth are mssing in the budget.

“Now, I ask myself, who is this budget for? Is it for that one or two per cent of the people at the top who buy all the airports and all the ports? And, what is the responsibility of any Government and a Finance Minister? The responsibility is to take care of the people at the bottom of the pyramid,” Sibal said.

On unemployment, he said World Bank data of 2019 pointed out that India had a level of unemployment of 23 per cent amongst the youth. He added that in manufacturing, the loss of jobs is 9.8 million. “In hotel and tourism sector, it is 5 million. In education, it is 4 million. In overall services sector, it is 1.8 million. Fall in Central Government employment is 3.32 million. From 2012-13, it is now 3.31 million. Fall in employment in Railways is 1.72 million,” he said.

Sibal also criticised the Centre for the steep increase in duties on petrol and diesel. “Diesel price was ₹55. The excise on it was ₹3.46. Today the price is ₹86 and excise is ₹21 on diesel and the increase is 530 per cent,” Sibal said comparing the taxation of Narendra Modi government with Mughal ruler Aurgangazeb. He said ‘Jizya’ tax was introduced by Ahmad Shah and was abolished by Akhbar. “Then Aurangzeb came. He again implemented it in 1617 but said it will not be applicable to poor people. This is worse than Aurangzeb. You have implemented it on everyone that too 530 per cent and 203 per cent,” Sibal said.

BJD MP Amar Patnaik said the Budget is an over-abundance of capital expenditure, technology, climate action and the ease of doing business, which will have a positive impact on the economy. “However, there is an under-nourishment of health, education, rural economy, farmers’ welfare, woman and child and of the States themselves,” Patnaik said.

He said unless the Internal Rate of Return is more than the cost of finance, nobody would come to invest. “The IRR on a Global Range is between 8 to 12 per cent. In India, it is only 6 to 8 per cent. Therefore, the PPP mode projects will have problems unless the cost of borrowing goes down. Something has to be done about cost of capital in this country,” he added.

Nominated MP and economist Naresh Jadhav said the budget would sharply increase public investment, would entice greater private investment, would create more jobs, more income, and, in turn, that would create larger consumption demand and, to meet that demand, there would be more production, and, therefore, there would be more jobs. “This virtuous circle will lay down the foundation of a sustained economic growth as India at 75 makes a transition to India at 100,” he said. BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi also agreed with this and said the focus of the budget is job creation.

Regional parties opposed the Budget. Vijay Sai Reddy of YSRCP and Kaniimozhi NVN Somu said the Centre is squeezing the resources of the States. “The Centre is deliberately increasing the cess and surcharges in its gross tax revenues which are not shared with the States. The States’ share has been brought down in reality,” Reddy said. AIADMK’s M Thambidurai said the budget has a potential to create 60 lakh new jobs and additional production of ₹30 lakh crore during the next five years.

Published on February 09, 2022
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