P Chidambaram slams Centre over fiscal management, dubs it ‘anti-consumer’

The former finance minister’s comments come on the heels of Budget 2018-19 that will be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: January 21, 2018 1:12:03 pm
I shall neither bend nor break, says P Chidambaram post ED raids at Karti's premises Congress leader P Chidambaram at a press conference. (Express file photo)

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday criticised the BJP-led NDA government claiming it was wasteful in managing the country’s coffers, alleging it was “anti-consumer”. The former finance minister’s comments come close on the heels of Budget 2018-19 that will be presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1.

Chidambaram, in a series of tweets, raised issues like government borrowing, disinvestment, fiscal deficit, fuel price hike and GST.

On Saturday, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) signed a deal with the President of India which will see the former acquire 51.1 per cent stake in HPCL. In the all-cash deal, ONGC, state-owned explorer, will acquire 778,845,375 equity shares of HPCL, state-owned refiner, in a cash purchase consideration.

“Govt cuts borrowing by Rs 30,000 crore, but ONGC will borrow Rs 30,000 crore to pay govt for HPCL shares. It has the same effect. Analysts and the market will add Rs 30,000 crore to the fiscal deficit,” Chidambaram said on Twitter.

Price rise of petrol and diesel, which hit highs in recent weeks, was also a matter raised by Chidambaram. “Petrol and Diesel prices have hit the roof. Govt continues to squeeze the consumers. Absolutely anti-consumer.”

Fuel prices were put on a dynamic price revision model which means prices of petrol and diesel are revised daily so that the gains of price changes in the national and international commodities markets can be transferred to the consumer. Last Monday, the price of diesel hit an all-time high in Delhi and Petrol sold at a three-year high.

Touching upon GST and petroleum having been kept out of the ambit of the new indirect taxation system, Chidambaram said: “Why doesn’t the BJP bring Petrol and Diesel under GST and give relief to consumers?” adding that “Government has reaped a windfall through massive taxation of Petrol and Diesel. And the money was squandered in wasteful expenditure.”

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