Hours after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget on Saturday, veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram said the government had given up on reviving the economy while Rahul Gandhi dubbed it a “hollow” Budget.
Calling Sitharaman’s claim of 6 to 6.5 per cent growth next year “astonishing and even irresponsible”, the former finance minister said the government “does not believe” in reforms.
“The government has given up on reviving the economy or accelerating the growth rate or promoting private investment or increasing efficiency or creating jobs or winning a greater share of world trade,” Chidambaram said at a press conference.
Pointing out that the economy was facing a “grave macro economic challenge”, Chidambaram said the Budget was a laundry list of old programmes.
“It was a laundry list of old (that is current) programmes. I am pretty certain that even the most loyal BJP MP or supporter cannot latch on to any idea or statement in the Budget speech and take it to the people,” Chidambaram said.
Saying that the economy was demand-constrained and investment-starved, Chidambaram said the twin challenges were glossed over by the Finance Minister.
“You did not ask for such a budget and you did not deserve such a budget for voting the BJP to power. But you have to live with it until the government is forced to revisit it, as it did in 2019,” Chidambaram said.
Presenting her second Union Budget, in a speech that lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes, Sitharaman announced cuts in personal income tax and extended tax benefits for affordable housing in a bid to boost the disposable incomes of the Indian consumers.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, said that the Budget did not address the issue of unemployment. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 showed that unemployment in India was at a 45-year high.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Rahul Gandhi said, “The main issues confronting this country today are unemployment and the situation as far as the economy is concerned. I did not see any concrete idea, any strategic idea that would help our youngsters get jobs. I saw a lot of tactical stuff, redundant things, I did not see any central idea.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines