Rajya Sabha continues debate on Union Budget 2019-20


Rajya Sabha long shotOpposition parties in Rajya Sabha on Thursday criticised the Union Budget 2019-20 saying there is nothing in it for promoting investment and employment, but the ruling BJP asserted that it is a “pro-poor and pro-farmer” budget that would boost economic growth.

Participating in the debate on the Budget, Congress leader P Chidambaram downplayed the Modi government’s call of making India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024-25, saying the economy itself doubles due to the “magic of compounding” in six to seven years and does not require a prime minister or finance minister.

“So please don’t put this pie in the sky before people of the country… 5 trillion dollars is simple arithmetic,” he said, adding the Budget lacks the bold reforms and structural reforms needed to take the “weak economy” on a fast growth track.

He termed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s speech as “insipid” and said the budget does not have any steps to propel investment and savings.

He sought to corner the finance minister, saying she did not present macro economic data, including receipts from revenue, in her Budget Speech in Lok Sabha on July 5.

Chidambaram said people deserve to know broad numbers as they do not go through annexures and other Budget documents. Opposition leaders said the Budget should have dealt with issues like remunerative prices and debt relief which the farmers are in desperate need of and alleged it was completely silent on issues like agrarian distress, economic slowdown, industrial stagnation and joblessness “that currently afflict the economy”.

Countering their criticism, BJP’s Prabhat Jha said it is a “pro-poor and pro-farmer” budget and allocation for the agriculture sector has been substantially increased that will help boost the growth.
He also said the Congress won five states recently with the promise to waive farm loans within 10 days of government formation.

“But farm loans are yet to be waived of, even till date and people have realised the true colours of the Congress, the result of which was seen in the Lok Sabha polls,” he said.

“You commit the crime and blame us for it,” he said, accusing the Congress of harming the country’s economy.

Chidambaram said the prime minister has enough will and determination to take bold decisions needed for economic growth.

“There is this goal of a 5 trillion dollar economy. Good, very good. I will give you better goals. In 1990-91 India’s economy was 320 billion dollars, it doubled to 618 billion dollars in 2003-04.

“Then UPA government came and from 618 billion dollars, it doubled to 1.22 trillion dollars in four years. It doubled again to 2.48 trillion dollars in September 2017. It will double to 5 trillion dollars in the next five years. “It does not require a Prime Minister or a Finance minister. It will double. That is the magic of compounding,” he said, adding that any money lender or borrower knows this.

CPI member D Raja said the Budget failed to address “real issues” and there was nothing to improve private investments. He opposed the government’s proposed plan to privatise profitable public sector undertakings (PSUs).

He wanted to know the allocation made in the Budget for social sector, education, healthcare and MNREGA as well as for minorities and SCs/STs. The labours reform proposed in the budget are “anti-labour”, he alleged.

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said the budget does not raise the hopes of unemployed youth of the country nor the senior citizens.

He criticised the alleged privatisation of railways, saying it is like the East India Company and the present government was taking India behind by many decades.

“I am not a pessimist, but I speak whatever is good for the country,” he noted, while taking on criticism that those opposing the Budget are pessimists. Roy said the Finance Minister had ‘halwa’ during the printing of the Budget, but some ‘halwa’ should have been given to the common people through the Budget.

He said that total tax revenues were lower than the revised estimates.