The Opposition took on the government over provisions in the Union Budget and rising fuel prices in the country during discussions on the Finance Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha Tuesday. While the Congress raised the issue of rising economic inequality in the country and fuel prices, Shiv Sena said farmers’ income would never double if fuel prices kept increasing.
“The inequality is increasing. Your own data shows that 73% of wealth generated in the country goes to 1% people. You have given tax relief to the rich but taxed the poor. Why are petrol and diesel getting more expensive every day? You have been increasing cess on everything which goes to central coffers. It doesn’t help states. GST compensation has also not been given. Please do not do this, states are suffering,” Congress MP from Punjab Amar Singh said.
Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut also raised the issue of fuel prices. “On one hand you talk about doubling income of farmers, on the other you increase diesel and petrol prices in the name of agricultural cess. You are crippling the farmer as the transportation cost of his produce is increasing. Farmers are protesting in Delhi but after taking a few initial steps, you are not talking to them and resolving the issue,” Raut said.
Raising the issue of LPG prices, Raut said, “LPG prices have also increased. People are again using wood. Does the government want that people should use wood more and more for cooking and fall ill?”
Raut demanded that fuel and gas be brought under GST, “The Late Arun Jaitley had said that we are in favour of bringing fuel and gas under GST. Why haven’t you done this? I request PM, you are a well-wisher of the poor, please bring them under GST to bring the prices down.”
Speaking on the budget overall, Congress’s Amar Singh said that the government was blaming the pandemic for the poor condition of the economy but the economy was doing poorly since the first quarter of 2018-19.
“Even if we grow by 10% in the next year we will only reach 0. So tell us when will we reach the GDP figures of 2018-19?” Singh said.
He also demanded that data on unorganised sector losses should be collected. “Except agriculture, all sectors have suffered. Government should try to fathom through NSSO the losses in unorganised sector. We have totally ignored the unorganised sector,” Singh said.
Singh pointed out that PMKY budget has been decreased by Rs 10,000 crore at a time when agriculture supported the economy at the time of crisis. “Why have you decreased MGNREGA budget by Rs 38,000 crore? You have said nothing about job losses,” Singh said.
He also said that at a time when India was facing threat from China, there was no substantial capital expenditure in defence. “Capital expenditure used to be 36% under UPA, now it is 25-26%. Defence was expecting more, but it didn’t happen,” Singh said.
Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena said that the economy was facing a dire situation as 6.8 lakh companies had closed down till date and 74% small businesses had shut down during the pandemic.
“Over 10,000 firms have shut down … 71 lakh EPF accounts have shut down. How are you going to generate jobs? But, you have waived off Rs 68,000 crore to the rich,” Raut said.
He also raised the issue of MPLAD funds. “You can buy Rs 7.5 k crore worth of aircraft. Fine, if it is necessary. But why take MPLAD away when it is used for the welfare of the people,” said Raut.
YSRCP’s PV Midhun Reddy asked the government to release pending payments in MGNREGA and requested it to not disinvest profit-making PSUs.