CHENDIGARH: Trashing the Union Budget 2019-20 as completely lacking in vision, Punjab Chief
Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday said it had nothing to offer to any section of the society, ignoring even critical sectors like Defence and making no allocation for the historic 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev.
In a scathing criticism of the budget, Amarinder described it as being long on talk and short on delivery. Ignoring vital issues of national interest, the Union Finance Minister had spoken of achievements in the past tense and made promises in the future tense, with no indication of what the government intended to offer to the people today, he added.
The past achievements referred to in the budget were a testimony to the work done by the previous Congress governments, which the BJP-led NDA government was trying to negate instead of making any meaningful contribution to the nation’s progress in the present, he said. The budget contained no roadmap whatsoever for the nation’s growth and development, he added.
Amarinder expressed shock over the fact that, after hyping the nationalist agenda to win the Lok Sabha elections, the NDA had completely ignored this critical subject, announcing a meager 6.5 per cent increase in the defence budget – barely sufficient to meet the inflationary cost - with no capital expenditure outlay. It was strange, he said, that for the first time the finance minister of the country had wrapped up the budget speech without a mention of fiscal deficit and important sectors such as defence.
He flayed the Union Government’s failure to announce any impactful interventions or incentives for agriculture, which was witnessing a complete collapse with distressed farmers resorting to suicides. He lashed out at the NDA government for turning a blind eye to the plight of farmers, saying the `zero-budget
farming’ proposal was a mere hogwash containing no clear or definitive solutions to their problems. He lamented that the central government had once again failed to come out with a farm debt waiver scheme and had also made no commitment on implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
After asking states to cut down VAT on petrol, which Punjab had also done as directed, the central government had chosen to impose cess on petrol, and that too amid mounting US-Iran tensions which threatened to trigger a global crisis over petrol, the Chief Minister further pointed out.
He expressed outrage over the government’s decision to impose majority of new charges in the form of cess and surcharge, instead of imposing taxes, in what was clearly an attack on India’s federal structure and an attempt to dilute the Centre-State relations. By not announcing new taxes, and imposing cess/surcharge instead, the Centre had deprived states of their 42 per cent share of the revenue which would have devolved on them under the taxation system, he pointed out.
Further, there was no suggestion in the budget on how the government intended to generate employment, said Amarinder, adding that the GDP figures had been clearly manipulated to falsify growth projections.
The entire budget document showcased the stressed under which the Indian economy was today, said the Chief Minister, warning of further regression unless the Centre comes out with strong fiscal stimulants to infuse positivity in the environment.