Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday gave a patient hearing to party leaders wishlist for the coming Budget,which appeared to be largely a mere repetition of what they have been putting forth at the annual pre-budget consultation exercises in the past.
The wishlist included an increase in income tax exemption limit,bank interest rate restructuring,further emphasis on keeping down food inflation,focus on industrial growth and more allocation to education.
The Finance Minister,however,refused to give them any commitment stating at the very beginning that he would not react to any of the suggestions. In his introductory remarks,Mukherjee was said to have driven home the importance of maintaining the growth rate emphasising that it was necessary for social sector spendings and to generate employment.
Only about 40 leaders turned up for the meeting although invitations had been sent to all party MPs and office-bearers.
While some of them were busy in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections,many others who were in the capital also stayed away.
A Congress functionary,who skipped the meeting,argued that the pre-Budget consultation came rather late in the day as there was little time left to incorporate their suggestions in the Budget.