Budget 2020

Opposition to govt: Stop the blame game on economy

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 10, 2020 Published on February 10, 2020

Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Monday   -  PTI

The patient (economy) is being monitored by incompetent doctors: Chidambaram

The Opposition attacked the Centre’s economic policies in Rajya Sabha on Monday during a debate on the general Budget. The members of the Opposition asked the Narendra Modi government to mend their ways as economy showed a decline in the last six quarters.

Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who initiated the debate on the Budget, warned against blaming predecessors for the problems in economic management. He said doing so is factually wrong and said people want answers from present managers of the economy. “How long can you blame the previous managers?” he said and added that the Centre must know how to manage a bad economic situation.”

The former Finance Minister also found faults with the numbers provided in the Budget. He said the last Budget projected nominal GDP growth of 12 per cent but ended with just 8.5 per cent. “Fiscal deficit was targeted to be reduced to 3.3 per cent of the GDP but ended at 3.8 per cent and in the next fiscal, it is being targeted at 3.5 per cent,” he said and added that the revenue deficit was targeted at 2.3 per cent in the fiscal ending March 31, 2020 but ended up at 2.4 per cent and in the next, it would rise to 2.8 per cent.

He said the Centre promised to collect ₹16.49 lakh crore as tax revenue but was able to get just ₹nine lakh crore till December 2019. “You want us to believe this will rise to ₹15 lakh crore by March 2020,” he said. Expenditure in 2019-20, also, he said was pegged at ₹27.86 lakh crore but only ₹11.78 lakh crore was spend during April-December and by March this is projected to rise to ₹27 lakh crore. “You have no money to spend... and these are masked by numbers,” he said, and added: “Numbers are not easily acceptable or believable.”

He said the patient (economy) has been kept out of the ICU and incompetent doctors are looking at the patient. “It is dangerous to have a patient out of the ICU and being looked upon by incompetent doctors. What is the point standing around and chanting slogan ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vishwas’,” he said.

He accused the Centre of living in denial. “We have an economy which is perilously close to collapse. It has to be attended to by very competent doctors. In the last few years, we have found the doctors are not so competent,” he said. “We are living in denial and we are ignoring two big elephants in the room -- one is rising unemployment and the other is fall in consumption. Unemployment rises, consumption falls, the Indian economy becomes poorer and not richer,” he added.

BJP MP Arun Singh said Arun Singh (BJP) hailed the budget and said economic situation is “better on all parameters” compared to the erstwhile UPA regime. He said controlling inflation was a main step by this government, while the UPA government had miserably failed in it. He claimed that the Budget has a detailed roadmap to make India a 5-trillion dollars economy.

AIADMK’s A Navaneethakrishnan said the Budget is “growth oriented”. “The slowdown and banking crisis are global factors. Our Prime Minister has created awareness in the country which is the real empowerment of Indians,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Manas Bhunia said the Budget failed to provide any remedial measures to the people. “Coronavirus has created a pandemic situation in China. In our country, I suspect that another financial coronavirus is being spread from North Block which is destroying the economy of the country,” he said.

Published on February 10, 2020

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