M A I N   N E W S

PM gives thumbs up, BJP finds it hard to pick holes
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

A TV screen in Mumbai shows the Finance Minister presenting the Budget.
A TV screen in Mumbai shows the Finance Minister presenting the Budget. — AFP

New Delhi, February 28
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for meeting all the challenges of the economy in the Budget, the Opposition was at a loss to criticise the spending announced in the social sector.

The Prime Minister appreciated that the Budget proposals meet all the challenges that the economy faces today, including sustaining high growth rates. Manmohan Singh took note of “adequate provisions for infrastructure and social sector as well as agricultural development”. “It is important to curb inflationary expectations and for this it is necessary to consolidate fiscal deficit. Pranab Mukherjee has done a commendable job on this front,” said the economist Prime Minister, himself the country’s Finance Minister for five years.

Manmohan Singh (PM)
The Budget meets all the challenges that the economy faces today and adequate provisions for infrastructure and social sector have been made.

Rajnath Singh (BJP)
This is an attempt to divert people's attention from the bad image the United Progressive Alliance government had earned due to corruption by giving some sops.

Sitaram Yechury (CPM)
Liberalisation of the financial sector will provide greater access to foreign finance capital in the domestic sector which will be disastrous.

The Prime Minister hoped that the Direct Tax Code may become effective from April 1, 2012. But as far as the other promises were concerned, having been bitten once by the BJP’s intransigence over passing agreed legislations like GST, Manmohan Singh spoke with caution saying much depends upon “what we can push through Parliament.”

Budget Reactions


Likes: Provisions for the Food Security Bill; interest subvention of 3 per cent on crop loans will encourage farmers

DISLikes: Nothing for the common man; IT limit up by Rs 20k, but it will not even cover the cost of inflation

IMPACT: With corporate sector being given tax concessions, their growth is imminent

RM Khanna (CII)

Likes: More funds in agriculture sector; paving the way for GST, which will benefit the industry

DISLikes: Hike in Minimum Alternate Tax from 18 to 18.5%; there was a demand for it to be reduced to 15%

IMPACT: Additional funds for increasing pulse, vegetable and oilseed production, will definitely help in controlling inflation

RS Sachdeva (PHDCC)

Likes: Focus on food production, education and health sectors; duty on export of iron ore

DISLikes: Hike in MAT and the delay GST implementation

IMPACT: Budget will help control inflation; for the steel industry, it will not have much impact, except that the duty on export of iron ore will increase its availability

“There is no lack of effort on part of the government. Although there are some difficulties with regard to GST as some states are not on board. I am confident we will persevere and will succeed,” the PM said.

The Opposition, on the other hand was at a loss for words to criticise the Budget proposals. Former BJP president Rajnath Singh reacted to the Budget saying, “This is an attempt to divert the people’s attention from the bad image the UPA government had earned due to innumerable corruption by giving some sops. No attempt has been made to meet the black money challenge.”

The Ghaziabad MP, however, commended the proposal to transfer the subsidy on fertilisers, kerosene and LPG directly to the poor, but hoped that the government would ensure that every farmer and entitled person manages to open a bank account so that this cash subsidy is passed on to him or her.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj noted that the Budget made no mention of unemployment and therefore seemed to have plans to curb unemployment or rising prices.

“It is a very disappointing Budget, which has not done justice to the common man, woman and the youth,” she said noting that the only good thing proposed is a raise in anganwadi workers and helpers’ remuneration. But other BJP leaders like Yashwant Sinha, Murli Manohar Joshi and Ananth Kumar lacked focus in their criticism.

However, the Left charged the Finance Minister with burdening the poor and subsidising the rich.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury mentioned how Mukherjee had promised to further liberalise the financial sector to attract FDI which the UPA-I government could not do because of the Left opposition.

He also noted that the government aimed at benefiting the corporate sector with concessions on direct taxes to the tune of Rs 11,500 crore but on the other hand the hike of Rs 11,300 crore in indirect taxes is aimed at hitting the masses.

Yechury said instead of curbing the Mauritius route adopted by most of the companies for tax evasion, even PSUs were now registered in Mauritius thus legitimising tax evasion. This shows how cavalier the government was about tackling black money issue, he added.





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