NEW DELHI: The Opposition accused the government of slashing allocation to various social sector schemes and cutting food and fertiliser subsidies in the Budget.
Terming it a “political budget”, the parties said it had not done anything for the common man, nor had any steps been taken to unearth black money. Initiating the debate on the general budget, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who had come well prepared, tore into the budget, caustically remarking at one point, “Jaitley ji, the joke going around is that this is a good budget only for the Aadhaar card-holding beedi smoker in need of dialysis who lost his degree certificate and plans to launch a loss-making start-up in a Gram Panchayat with MGNREGA funds. For everybody else, it is a huge disappointment.”
Tharoor said the Finance Minister had tried to balance the concerns of rating agencies and political considerations of coming elections. “It has kept in Modi interest and Moody interest in mind,” Tharoor said. He said even Sub-Saharan Africa spent 7 per cent on health and education while India has allocated just 4 per cent for these sectors. The allocation for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had been cut. While the allocation for the Nirbhaya Fund had been slashed from Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 500 crore, the government had cut the food subsidy by Rs 5,000 crore, fertiliser subsidy by Rs 2,000 crore, besides allocations to education and to the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
“If a middle class of four in Delhi wants to go to a restaurant, they would have to incur the following expenses - five litres of petrol on an average at Rs 56.61 per litre which would cost them Rs 283, which includes the tax of Rs 190. It is 204 per cent more than the global oil price. At a nominal restaurant bill of Rs 1,000, which would attract a tax of Rs 303.50 paise - service charge of 10 per cent, VAT of 12.5 per cent, service tax of 14 per cent plus the Swachh Bharat cess of 0.5 per cent plus the Krishi Kalyan cess of 0.5 per cent,” Tharoor pointed out.