TARGETING THE Union Budget in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Opposition members said it has no roadmap and does not address the serious issues of agrarian crisis and unemployment. The ruling BJP members countered that the Budget has “everything to take the country to a $5 trillion economy in five years”.
On the second day of the debate on the Budget, RSP’s N K Premachandran questioned the government’s promise on growth of the economy. “The Economic Survey projects growth at 7%. You need to grow at the rate of 11% to achieve a goal of (becoming) a $3 trillion economy, which is impossible,” he said. He said the Budget did not address the unemployment issue and had reduced the allocation for MGNREGS. “To sum up, this Budget was full of sound, fury and poems in Tamil, Hindi and Urdu, but signifies nothing,” he said.
He said the Budget was “opaque and lacking transparency”, especially with regard to macro-economic issues. “What about fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, GDP of the country? The Budget speech is telecast live from Parliament, and citizens of the country have the right to know what the fiscal deficit of the country is. Corporate tax has reduced from 30% to 25%, what is the revenue loss? It is not disclosed in the Budget. What are the estimated earnings from the petrol and diesel hike or from the super-rich taxation? People have a right to know,” he said.
“There is serious concern regarding the data that’s coming from the central government. There is no statistical integrity in this government,” said TDP’s Ram Mohan Naidu.
DMK member A Raja said the Budget did not have any roadmap to show how the promises would be fulfilled. India is an agrarian-oriented economy, but this government believes that the real wealth creators are the corporates, he said. “This government relies exclusively on foreign investment,” he said, adding, “they believe the corporate world can create wealth” for the nation.
The Budget, he said, wants to rely on two components — Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI).
“Headlines don’t produce results… the Budget presented by this government failed to rise to face the challenges, despite not having the pressures of coalition politics,” said Congress member Preneet Kaur.
AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi criticised the government for cutting allocation for scholarships for minority students. He said at least Rs 600 crore should be earmarked for scholarships for minority students who fall under the lowest per capita income category.
Congress member Jayakumar K spoke of how the BJP, in the run-up to the 2014 elections, had promised to eradicate black money and deposit Rs 15 lakh in every bank account. “People voted for this. Where is that money? Demonetisation is the largest scam conceived and implemented in this country,” he said.
CPI(M) member A M Arif also criticised the Budget.
BJP member Varun Gandhi said the minimum wage rate should be standardised. “We must declare a national floor level minimum wage. As of now, the poorest minimum wage labourer will take 941 years to get what a top executive gets in one year,” he said.
Taking off from Varun Gandhi’s point that Kerala provides Rs 900 as minimum wage, Kerala Congress (M) MP Thomas Chazhikadan spoke of the low wages notified by the central government under NREGA: “A NREGA worker get only Rs 217 per day. The Budget speech makes no mention of this important rural employment scheme. The Centre needs to revise wages paid to NREGA workers.”
Apna Dal (S) MP Anupriya Patel also raised the issue of the reduction in the allocation for NREGA.
BJP member Vinod Sonkar asked the government to frame a national policy on outsourcing to prevent exploitation of youth.