At the end of his budget speech, the Finance Minister has claimed that the "Budget belongs to aam admi. It belongs to the farmer, the agriculturist, the entrepreneur and the investor". Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The most important challenge the Finance Minister faced while preparing this budget was the challenge of unprecedented price rise of essential commodities including food grains. The monthly Wholesale Price Index also is already close to 9 percent. In this budget, therefore, our hope was that the Finance Minister would address this concern of the aam admi above all other concerns. This hope has been dashed to the ground by the budget. The Finance Minister claims that his indirect tax proposals will result in a revenue gain of Rs. 46,500 crore for the year. He hopes to gain another Rs. 3,000 crore from service tax. Thus, the net direct burden on the consumers of these goods and services will be close to Rs. 50,000 crore. Since, only a fraction of our population pays income tax, the benefits of the concessions on the direct taxes side will be limited to this fraction only while the burden of Rs. 50,000 crore will have to be shared by everyone. The indirect effect of these changes will be many times more. The increase in excise duty by 2 percent will affect all taxable products. The increase in petroleum product prices including diesel will have a massive cascading effect on all prices. The tax burden imposed in this budget, therefore, is unprecedented and will add fuel to fire on the price front.
The country is passing through an agrarian crisis. We expected the Finance Minister to come out with a concrete plan of action for ameliorating the condition of the Kisan. The budget only touches the fringe of the problem. The allocations are too meagre to make any difference on the ground.
Infrastructure continues to suffer. Merely repeating homilies like building 20 kms of National Highway per day is not going to solve the problem.
The allocation for the flagship scheme of the UPA government namely, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme has been increased by only Rs. 1,000 crore, from Rs. 39,100 crore in this year's budget to Rs.40,100 crore next year. This is not even sufficient to take care of the rate of inflation.
The BJP feels that the Finance Minister, instead of concentrating on a few priority areas in the budget like agriculture, rural development, health and education has spread his resources too thinly over a large number of sectors with the result that the impact of the increased budgetary allocations will necessarily be limited and these sectors will continue to suffer.
In short, the budget puts hardly any burden on the rich and the powerful while it deals a crushing blow to the weak and voiceless - the proverbial aam admi.