Opposition’s charges on Budget misplaced: FM in Rajya Sabha

Rajat Kain

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaking in Rajya Sabha

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaking in Rajya Sabha

Replying to the discussion on General Budget 2018 in Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rejected Opposition’s charges as misplaced and something which the factual data doesn’t merit. Jaitley took on Congress party on the performance of its past governments and their failures, especially in the sphere of poverty alleviation.

“You have ruled for 55 years… Poverty should have gone away in 1970s itself, going with your oft-repeated slogan on poverty alleviation,” he said.

“It is a journey from policy paralysis to structural reforms that we have covered. The journey from the fragile five to what is now referred to as a bright spot in the economy in the world,” Arun Jaitley said lauding the steps taken by his government.

Jaitley also referred to the issue of Andhra Pradesh, which has led to protest by the MPs from the state demanding central aide for the state.

He assured that state will receive all possible help from the Centre. Some projects have been completed and some are remaining. At no time the work will be stopped for the Central government had agreed to give assistance to the state of Andhra Pradesh for the period of five years at the time of bifurcation, he said.

On the issue of MNREGA, he said the NDA government has spent more meticulously on the scheme than the UPA, which had originally got the scheme.

“We have allocated Rs 55 thousand crore on the programme… this government has spent more on the construction of rural road connectivity. Toilets have been constructed in rural areas in last three years, which no government has even imagined,” the Finance Minister said.

Arguing on the performance of the government on the GDP, he said “You left with the GDP of 5.3% and 6.3% and now if you see through successive years we have achieved 7.5%, 8.2% and 7.1% and 6.7%… look who is talking,” Jaitley said attacking the Congress.

Charging that UPA had unacceptable level of current account deficit, saying it left us with the current account deficit of 4.2% and 4.8% in last year and one of the quarters in 2012 it reached 6.8%.

“Ever since we have come, current account deficit hasn’t breached the range of 0.5%-1%-1.5%,” he said, adding that the government has even brought down the fiscal deficit to 3.5%.

The Union Finance Minister also defended the government on the implementation of pathbreaking GST and Aadhaar, where he termed Congress party’s stand as ambiguous due to inherent contradictions within their own government when they were in power.

“Tax net has widened, direct tax collection up 19.3% in April-January as a result of campaign against black money, and the introduction of GST,” said Jaitley.

The further discussion on the subject will take place in the second leg of Budget Session, starting March 5, when the house will take up discussion on Finance Bill and the Demands for Grants.