Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the Budget reflects the government's contemptuous disregard for the burdens and sufferings of the people.

Former Finance Minister P ChidambaramPTI
news Union Budget 2022 Tuesday, February 01, 2022 - 19:14

Mincing no words while expressing his displeasure at the Budget, former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said that the "capitalist" Union Budget for the year 2022-23 is "obdurate" and "callous", as there is no cash assistance to the poor who have been pushed into extreme poverty and suffered immensely during the last two years.

Addressing a press conference, he said the government behaved and acted as though it was on the right path and had delivered on the issues that matter to the common people. “This is false. This is also bull-headed obduracy. This also reflects the government's contemptuous disregard for the burdens and sufferings of the people.”

The Budget may be passed in Parliament because the ruling party has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha but the capitalist Budget will be rejected by the people, the Congress leader said.

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He said he was astonished that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was ‘outlining a plan for the next 25 years, which she called the Amrit Kaal!’ and added that the government seemed to believe that the present does not need any attention and the people living in the present can be asked to wait patiently until the Amrit Kaal dawns. "This is nothing but mocking the people of India, especially the poor and the deprived," he said.

Chidambaram said that there was not a word in the speech 'for those who had lost their jobs, for those whose education stopped at some stage at the school level, not a word about reviving MSMEs that had shut down, not a word about distributing more food to combat malnutrition and hunger, not a word about cutting indirect taxes, especially GST, to contain inflation and bring down the prices of goods, and not a word about giving tax relief to the tax-paying middle class or the tax-bearing head of a household’.

"By any standard, today's budget speech was the most capitalist speech ever read by a Finance Minister. The FM has mastered the jargon of capitalist economics," he said, and added to ‘count the number of times the words digital, portal, IT-based, paperless, database, ecosystem, global, atmanirbhar were used. The word ‘poor’ occurs twice in paragraph 6, and we thank the FM for remembering that there are poor people in this country’.

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The former Finance Minister said that the macro-economic indicators are worrying, and on top of the list is the fiscal deficit (FD) for 2021-22, which has overshot the target of 6.8% and is estimated at 6.9%. For next year, it will be 6.4%. "That is an insufficient correction if the goal is to reach 4 per cent three years hence by 2025-26. The financing of the FD is also a matter of concern. 70 per cent of the FD in 2022-23 will be financed by market borrowing as against 55 per cent in the current year, crowding out private sector borrowing,” he said.

Chidambaram added that there was also a worry about raising more resources. “The FM is betting on heavy market borrowing and increase in corporate tax (+85,000 cr), Personal Income tax (+85,000 cr) and GST (+1,05,000 cr).  There is not a word about raising more resources from the rich, especially the very, very rich 142 persons whose wealth in the last two years has increased from Rs 23,14,000 crore to Rs 53,16,000 crore”, he said.

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(With IANS inputs)