Budget 2019: Opaque, insipid, disappointing — Chidambaram tears into Sitharaman’s maiden budget

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July 5, 2019 6:17 PM

Budget 2019 India: Nirmala Sitharaman's budget speech skipped the sector-wise allocation saying that all the numbers would be available in the budget document.

Union Budget 2019 IndiaUnion Budget India: P Chidambaram said that the budget speech completely missed essentials like allocations to MNREGA, mid-day meals scheme, and healthcare improvements. (IE)

Union Budget 2019-20: Hours after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the first full budget of the second term of the Modi government, senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram termed it ‘insipid’. He said that the budget did not even disclose the total revenue, total expenditure, fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, additional revenue mobilisation or financial concessions. “It is unfair and unethical not to disclose the number in the Parliament,” the former FM said.

“Has there ever been a budget speech that doesn’t disclose allocations to important programmes like MNREGA, mid-day scheme meals, healthcare etc and to vulnerable sections like SC, ST, minorities, women etc. We are shocked by this departure from usual practice,” Chidambaram added.

Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech skipped the sector-wise allocation saying that all the numbers would be available in the budget document. The former finance minister said that the Congress was shocked by this unusual departure and said that this was the most opaque budget that he had come across.

“We don’t even know what is the allocation for defence, for the mid-day meal, for MGNREGA…what is the percentage of change. We don’t even know it,” Chidambaram said while responding to a question. He further said that the budget speech usual has Part-A and Part-B. “But Part-A is the most disappointing as it is bereft of any reform, forget structural reform…the most disappointed person would be CEA (KV Subramanian).”

Subramanian in his first Economic Survey presented yesterday had advised a range of reforms to realise 8 per cent sustained GDP growth to achieve USD 5 trillion economy target by 2024. The government claims that the economy has doubled in the last five years and will cross USD 5 trillion by 2024. During the budget presentation, finance minister Sitharaman said that the economy has reached USD 2.7 trillion from USD 1.85 trillion in 2014.

“…we can very well reach 5 trillion dollars in the next few years,” she said.

However, the Congress said that the economy had hit the USD 2 trillion mark well before the BJP government took over in 2014. “A gentle reminder to the new Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian economy hit the US $2 trillion-mark before your government took to power for the first time,” it said in a tweet.

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