Lok Sabha begins discussion on Union Budget 2019-20


New Delhi: A view of the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament (PTI photo)

New Delhi: A view of the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament (PTI photo)

The Opposition on Monday criticised the Union Budget in Lok Sabha for its “distinctive misses” and questioned the hike in fuel prices, even as the BJP described it as a roadmap to achieve the USD 5-trillion economy.

Initiating the debate on the Union Budget 2019-20 presented on July 5, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said it has “unnecessarily defensive strokes, dropped catches and quite a few no balls” and alleged that it did not address key issues facing the economy, including farm distress, and raising fuel prices.

Former Union minister Jayantn Sinha, who spoke just after Tharoor, said that the BJP brought the economy back on track, transforming it into a superfast ‘Rajdhani’, and it will soon run like a bullet train.

Tharoor used cricket lexicon to target the Centre. “Since cricket is on our minds these days with World Cup semi-final tomorrow, let me say that instead of bold boundaries we expected in this first budget after the elections, what we have are unnecessarily defensive strokes, dropped catches and quite a few no balls and wide,” the Congress leader said.

He said the budget was characterised by “mediocre set of announcements, distinctive misses….”

“We were left with a sort of ‘trishanku’ budget, neither here nor there,” he said.

“Hastily and ill thought through demonetisation bears the large share of responsibility for shutting down lakhs of small and micro enterprises, throwing many more lakhs of people out of work,” he alleged.

Tharoor also raised the issue of agrarian distress and farmer suicides.

“Our nation’s farmers who provide food security have in the last five years received stepmotherly treatment form this government which has resulted in record level of farmer suicides,” he alleged.

Several opposition members also criticised the government for increasing duty on petrol and diesel in the Budget saying it would hurt the common man and must be withdrawn.

Tharoor questioned the wisdom of the government in increasing the duty on petrol and diesel at a time when the price of crude oil has been declining in the international market.

In her budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Friday raised excise duty and road and infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre each to raise Rs 24,000-28,000 crore on an annual basis.

Following the decision, the petrol price went up by a minimum of Rs 2.40 per litre and diesel by a minimum of Rs 2.36 per litre.

T R Baalu (DMK) said rise in fuel price will have a cascading impact on price situation and demanded that it should be withdrawn immediately.

“Common man will suffer because of increase in prices of petrol and diesel… why common man is being punished like that,” he questioned.

Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee said that hike in prices of petrol and diesel is having “tremendous impact on the daily life of the people”.

He wanted to know why the government raised the fuel prices when the crude prices in the global market were showing a declining trend during the last three months.

Sinha expressed confidence that the Centre will not only meet its target of USD 5-trillion economy but reach the USD 10 trillion mark.

Rejecting the Congress’ charge that the Budget was a missed opportunity, the BJP leader said what the party could not achieve in 60 years was done by the BJP in 60 months.

“When our government came to power in 2014, the economy was in a critical stage… it was a passenger train. We came and brought the train on track… and made that passenger train into Rajdhani train.

“And due to this visionary and effective budget we will make this Rajdhani train into a bullet train. And we will make the opposition member and public sit on that bullet train and complete the target of (USD) 5 trillion economy,” he said.

Terming the budget as historical and visionary, he said that it promotes consumption and investment.

“And I can say with confidence that we will achieve the target of 5 trillion. Because of the foundation laid by this budget we will not only achieve the target of (USD) 5 trillion but we are also going to achieve the economy of (USD) 10 trillion,” he said.

Sukhbir Singh Badal (SAD) said it was a visionary budget.