Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram speaking at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. Photo/ANI
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram speaking at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. Photo/ANI

Union Budget neither gives any meaningful relief nor listens to people's voice: Cong leader Chidambaram

ANI | Updated: Jul 05, 2019 18:51 IST

New Delhi (India), July 5 (ANI): Congress party on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre failed to address the vulnerable sections of the society, raised tax burden, and did not give any "meaningful relief" and listen to the people's voice in the Union Budget presented in Parliament on Friday.
"Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has given no meaningful relief to any sections of the society. On the contrary, it increased customs duty on a large number of goods, raised taxes on petrol and diesel and proposed extensive amendments to the Income-Tax Act that will increase tax and compliance burden on taxpayers," former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said at a press conference here.
He said: "The budget is being prepared without listening to the voices of either of ordinary citizens or knowledgable economists. The budget has also belied the expectation raised on Thursday by the Economic Survey."
Questioning Finance Minister Sitaraman's budget speech, he said: "Have there ever a budget speech that does not disclose allocations to important programmes like MGNAREGA, Mid-Day Meal scheme, health care and vulnerable sections of the society including SCs, STs, minorities, and women? We are shocked at the departure from the usual practice."
Chidambaram also claimed that Sitaraman did not mention total revenue, expenditure and fiscal deficit in her speech in Parliament. "Have you ever listened to a budget speech which does not mention total revenue, fiscal deficit and total expenditure?" he asked.
Chidambaram also raised questions over Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's plan to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy in the next five years.
He said: "The Chief Economic Advisor has set the goal for India to become a 5-trillion dollar economy and premises entire argument on boosting private investment and there is no indication in the budget speech of any measures to attract greater private investment. The only investment related proposal was FPI limit 24 per cent to the sectoral limit pertaining to the industry."
Criticising the government for increasing the fuel prices, Chidambaram said: "We are registering our protest here but what can we do. People grumble but go on with their work. We are articulating our protest against the exploitative increase in fuel charges despite the Economic Survey mentioning that the fuel prices have lowered."
He also slammed the government for its stand on Aadhaar card and its announcement about PAN and Aadhar card's interchangeability. "There is confusion within the government regarding Aadhaar. First, you amended the Act. Now you say Aadhaar is enough," he said.
Chidambaram also accused the Modi government of encroaching in the domain of state governments by enacting schemes for the purposes which can be achieved by the state governments.
"Modi government treats India as a big state and does things that are supposed to be done by state governments. The Prime Minister believes that only he and his government can deliver public goods," he said.
"We disagree and believe that state governments have the capacity to deliver public goods and services. And it is not good to reduce government as mere local administrations," the Congress leader said.
He, however, praised the government for two announcements in the Budget but said it should be presented in detail.
"If we can find anything from the Budget speech that is very interesting is the idea of Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation and the idea of a nationwide of gas and water grid but there are no details of whatsoever," he said.
On Finance Minister Sitharaman's decision to carry budget documents in red cloth instead of a suitcase, he said that the Finance Ministers from the Congress would carry an iPad.
He said: "Take it from me, our Congress' Finance Minister will in the future bring an iPad." (ANI)