OPPOSITION LEADERS on Wednesday slammed the first tranche of the Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus announced by the Centre as “disappointing” and a “big zero”, saying it provided no relief to migrant workers and had nothing to stimulate demand.
While senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the package was a “cruel blow” to those who toil every day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it had nothing for the unorganised sector and employment generation. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury called the package a “farce”.
Barring the “modest” MSME package, the stimulus package was “disappointing”, Chidambaram said. He said that even the measures for MSMEs were skewed in favour of the larger ones, leaving the bulk of the 6.3 crore micro, small and medium sized enterprises “high and dry”.
The former finance minister said that many of the steps announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were liquidity — as also regulatory — measures which will not spur demand as liquidity measures operate on the supply side. Liquidity measures do not amount to fiscal measures of support, he said, and nowhere in the world are they included in a fiscal stimulus package. “Except for the modest package of MSMEs…I don’t find anything in this package that will stimulate the demand side of the economy,” he said.
He, however, welcomed the offer of subordinate debt of Rs 20,000 crore and equity corpus fund of Rs 10,000 crore for MSMEs, but said the Congress would await the terms and conditions as the devil is in the details.
Dissecting the steps outlined by the Finance Minister, Chidambaram said, “This government is a prisoner of its own ignorance and fears. The government must spend more, but it is not willing to do so. The government must borrow more, but it is not willing to do so. The government must allow states to borrow more and spend more, but it is not willing to do so.”
He hit out at the government for not announcing any relief for the lakhs of “poor, hungry and devastated” migrant workers, saying it was a “cruel blow” to those who toil every day. “There is also nothing by way of cash transfer to the bottom half of the population (13 crore families) who have been pushed into destitution,” he said.
Giving the package a “big zero”, TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told the media, “It is an eyewash to fool people. There is nothing for the unorganised sector, public spending and employment generation.” She added, “We were hopeful that the interests of states would be looked into, FRBM limit would be increased. But. everything that was said yesterday was a bluff.”
CPM’s Yechury said, “The so-called ‘package’ by the Modi government is a farce. Those who urgently and immediately need help are walking hungry on the roads. There is nothing for the state governments which have been asking for funds, as they are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.”
He added, “What a ‘package’! People’s own money, being packaged back to them as refunds and a boost! People’s own savings and income tax refunds being given back to them – How can this be a ‘stimulus’?”
CPI’s D Raja said the package did not address the issues of joblessness and hunger.
Welcoming the PM’s decision, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “There was a need for such a package. The PM has attempted to provide relief to the poor, the farmers, the middle class and others.”
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