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Anti-people Budget, its main theme ‘sell India’: Trinamool

“What kind of budget is this?... Fake budget. Anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-country budget. They have increased the price of petrol and diesel. Cess is taken away by the Central government, the state government gets nothing," said Mamata Banerjee.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
February 2, 2021 3:58:14 am
Anti-people Budget, TMC on Budget, Trinamool Congress, Union Budget, Kolkata news, West Bengal news, Indian express newsPeople watch Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget speech, at a Kolkata shop on Monday. (Photo: Partha Paul)

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday led the Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) criticism of the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, calling it “anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-country”.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Uttar Banga Utsav in Siliguri, Banerjee said, “What kind of budget is this?… Fake budget. Anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-country budget. They have increased the price of petrol and diesel. Cess is taken away by the Central government, the state government gets nothing. Farmers will be affected by this petrol and diesel price hike. They are hiking fuel prices continuously. They promised to give you Rs 15 lakh, they gave nothing.”

The chief minister added, “BSNL, Rail, Air India and PSUs have been privatised. Jobs are not secure. The jobs in state government are all secure. I asked West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, how the budget was? He said ‘disguised, camouflaged Budget to deceive the people’.”

At an online press conference, Mitra described the Budget as confusing and directionless and said it would fail to stimulate demand in the economy.

In her speech, Sitharaman announced sops for all four poll-bound states, allocating Rs 2.25 lakh crore for infrastructure projects there. For West Bengal, the Centre allocated Rs 25,000 crore to build 625 km of roads from Kolkata to Siliguri. It also announced Rs 1,000 crore for the welfare of tea garden workers in West Bengal and Assam.

However, Mitra claimed that sufficient funds were not allocated to Bengal for efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and repair the damage caused by Cyclone Amphan. He said the money for building 625 km of roads in the state was “a big joke” as the state government had already built more than 88,000 km of rural roads and 5,111 kilometres of highways, Mitra said.

The chief minister accused the BJP of “giving business to a section of people” and furthering their interests. “Before the election, they promised to reopen seven tea gardens, did they? They only make fake promises and spread lies,” she added.

Banerjee said, “We have already made roads in North Bengal. We are helping with the Asian Highway connecting with neighbouring countries. What will you do with Kolkata-Siliguri road? You made an airport in Assam operational, why can’t you make the Cooch Behar airport operational? If you don’t do it, I will do it. I don’t believe in the politics of differentiation.”

Reiterating her demand to the Centre to repeal the new farm laws that have sparked protests, the chief minister wondered why it was hesitant about writing-off farm loans when it had waived Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) worth crores of rupees.

Echoing the TMC chief, party spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said, “India’s first paperless budget is also a 100% visionless budget. The theme of the fake budget is Sell India! Railways: sold, Airports: sold, Ports: sold, Insurance: sold PSUs: 23 sold!”

O’Brien claimed common people and farmers were ignored, adding that the Budget would increase income inequality while the middle class got “nothing”.

The MP also highlighted statistics to show how West Bengal had developed rural roads. “Rural roads: 39,705 km rural roads till 2011. 88,841 km rural roads developed between 2011-’20,” he said.

The MP also highlighted statistics to show how West Bengal had developed rural roads. “Rural roads: 39,705 km rural roads till 2011. 88,841 km rural roads developed between 2011-’20,” he said.

Budget shines for jewellers, others lament tax status quo

Kolkata: The Union Budget was on Monday met with a mixed response. While gold and jewellery traders welcomed the government’s decision to reduce the import duty on gold, salaried people called it “normal” with no direct benefit to them.

“This is a very historic budget for our industry. The long awaited and much needed import duty has finally been reduced from 12.5 per cent to 10.75 per cent including cess, thus providing relief to the industry,” said Siddarth Rupchand Sawansukha, managing director of Sawansukha Jewellers.

Besides most highway projects going to poll-bound states such as Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, people in the state felt that the Budget did not have direct benefit for them.

“Overall the Budget was good if we look it in continuity with the previous announcements. Salaried person will not enjoy any one time or direct benefits as such; however, it will improve the overall employment scenario of the country with the proposed capital expenditure, disinvestment plans, foreign direct investment and upcoming textile parks,” said banker Jagarati Sinha Laha.

Battered by the Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, businessmen hoped the Budget would provide a glimmer of hope.

“It’s a good budget for businesses and the middle class as no new taxes such as coronavirus cess have been levied. GST rates have been left untouched. The business class will breathe easy with the abolition of GST audit and tax audit in some cases,” said chartered accountant Rajeev Khandelwal, director of Webtel, a private company.

In relief to senior citizens above 75 with income from pension and interest, they were spared from filing income tax returns. “It (the exemption) is a welcome step as it is aimed to reduce the compliance burden on elderly people,” said Uday Shankar Mishra, a retired Bank manager. ENS

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