Hitting out at finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram claimed that the former has deceived the people of India, especially the poor, the migrant labourers and the farmers.
Claiming that the Centre has imposed cesses on a large number of products, Chidambaram alleged that a cess of Rs 2.50 on per litre of petrol and Rs 4.00 on per litre of diesel “is a cruel blow to the average citizen, including the farmers”.
“It (The Centre’s move) was a vengeful act against the thousands of farmers who took out the longest tractor rally in history. It was also a cruel blow to federalism because the states do not get a share of the revenue from cesses,” Chidambaram said.
The senior Congress leader also claimed that the Finance minister did not mention many important aspects in her budget speech.
“She did not mention defence at all, as if the Chinese have vacated occupied Indian territory. She did not mention that defence expenditure in 2021-22 will see no rise. It is flat at Rs 3,47,088 crore, almost the same as the Rs 3,43,822 crore in the current year,” the Congress leader said.
Chidambaram also alleged that the Country’s current fiscal situation is in a mess. “The Revenue Deficit (7.5%) and the Fiscal Deficit (9.5%) in the current year have exceeded every prediction, including the government’s. In 2021-22 the government estimates it will borrow about Rs 3.42 lakh crore less, but nobody is willing to believe the government. The ‘borrowing’ number has been under-stated by assuming that there will be disinvestment revenues of Rs 1.75 lakh crore. The record of this government on disinvestment is poor. The government has also assumed that tax revenues will increase by 15 per cent — another questionable assumption,” he said.
The Congress leader also lashed out at the Centre over the budget that was allocated to the agriculture sector and claimed that the “farm sector has been short changed”.
He also raised concerns over the budget that was allocated to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“MSMEs were dismissed in one sentence: ‘an allocation of Rs 15,700 crore’. This is like providing a fistful of oats to a hungry elephant. Nothing was mentioned about providing liberal, low-interest loans, working capital or moratorium. Nothing will be done to revive closed units or to recover the millions of jobs that were lost. The FM seems to be unaware that thousands of MSMEs — especially micro and small units — have been closed permanently,” Chidambaram said.
And even though the Centre proposed to increase the foreign direct investment cap in the investment sector by up to 74 percent, Chidambaram claimed that the BJP government has continued with “the saga of protectionism.”
“Customs duties have been increased on a number of items in the wrong belief that a stiffer dose of protectionism will help Indian industry,” the senior Congress leader said.
He also hit out at the central government for paying “special attention to election bound states”.
“She (Sitharaman) announced large capital outlays for Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam. People are not fools: they know that the proposals are only outlays and the actual expenditure will happen only after the schemes are approved and over a period of several years depending upon the pace of implementation,” Chidambaram said.
“The budget was a let down like never before. This budget, like the previous one, will unravel sooner than you think,” he added.