New Delhi

Attacking the interim budget for being “high on rhetoric and low on substance”, political parties, trade unions and farmers organisations on Thursday attacked the vote on account for FY25 as favouring big businesses.

Former Finance Minister and Congress MP P. Chidambaram pointed out that the budget spending on education and health is low. “The allocation in the 2024-25 Budget for health is 1.8 per cent and for education 2.5 per cent of total expenditure. None of the boasts can be accomplished with such low expenditure,” the senior Congress leader added.

Food inflation

“She (Finance Minister) spoke about free grain to 80 crore persons, but she did not speak about India’s rank in the Global Hunger Index or to widespread malnutrition among children leading to a high proportion of stunting and wasting. She barely referred to inflation but she did not refer to the fact that food inflation, currently is 7.7 per cent; that real wages for casual workers have stagnated for four years; and the fact that there is an increase in the proportion of workers dependent on agriculture,” Chidambaram said.

He said the fundamental flaw in the NDA’s approach to the economy and governance is that it is biased in favour of the rich. “The government is either ignorant or callous to the fact that the top 10 per cent owns 60 per cent of the nation’s wealth and earns 57 per cent of the national income and that income inequality has widened significantly in the last 10 years,” said Chidambaram.

Pure fiction

Communist Party of India (Marxists) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “Estimated ‘real growth’ of 7.3 per cent is pure fiction. GDP growth in current prices is deflated for real growth. Deflator used an inflation rate of 1.6 per cent, when RBI estimates inflation around 6 per cent & food inflation at 10 per cent! Such is the extent of data fudging! Modi propaganda claims are hollow & deceitful.”

CPM in a statement said “Though revenue receipts in FY24 exceeded the budget estimates and grew by 13.3 per cent compared to previous year, central government expenditures have been squeezed below budget estimates in order to reduce the fiscal deficit. These expenditures have grown by only 7 per cent, less than even the nominal growth of GDP, which is officially expected to be 8.9 per cent.”

Expenditures on several items like Agriculture & Allied Activities, Education, Health, Social Welfare, and schemes like the PM Krishi Sinchai Yojna and Umbrella Schemes for SCs, STs and other groups have been kept below budgeted levels, it added.

Unspent and surrendered

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said “The tall claims made while placing budget in terms of allocation to various welfare were unspent and surrendered back as seen in the case of surrender of ₹1 lakh crore unspent amount allocated to Agriculture farmers welfare between 2019-20 to 2022-23 reveals the dubious nature of the BJP government claims and the fraud on people played by it.”

The All India Kisan Sabha said that when compared with 2022-23, the allocation for agriculture and allied activities in 2024-25 budget has been cut by a whopping ₹81 thousand crore. In overall allocations for agriculture and allied activities there is a decline of 22.3 per cent compared to actual expenditure in 2022-23 and 6 per cent decline vis a vis the 2023-24 revised budget.