TIRUCHY: Former Union Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram said that the state-run entities BSNL and Air India had lost their relevance in the current scenario. He was speaking at St. Joseph’s Institute of Management in Tiruchy on Saturday. “When Air India and BSNL were established, there was a need for state-owned presence. Now, there are numerous private players and heavy competition in sectors. Hence, state-run entities must make quick and bold decisions to stay competitive,” he said.
Reviewing the Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he said that LIC has market share and are competitive in their sector. “Centre’s disinvestment in LIC is not right,” he said and demanded a suitable reason from Centre for disinvestment.
Criticising the Budget, he said it did nothing to revive the deteriorating economy in the country and because of this BJP government lost the trust of the people. Talking about decline in consumption, he pointed out that there was a 3.7 per cent decline overall in terms of consumption and a glaring 8.8 decline in rural pockets with 10 per cent decline in food consumption alone. He also pointed out the government’s failure in meeting the expenditure target of food subsidy. “The target was 1.84 lakh crore. But only 1.08 lakh crore was spent last year on food subsidy,” he said and quoted similar numbers in farming, mid-day meals, skill development and Ayushman Yojana, where promised allotment was not spent towards welfare.
Adding to this, Chidambaram criticised the new budget cutting back on manure, fertiliser subsidy, police expenditure. The drop in revenue from income tax, GST, disinvestment he said showed poor judgement and execution. He also criticised the need for introducing more income tax slabs. He said, “With only 1.5 crore Indians paying income tax, the deliberation over this is surprising, given there is so much to focus on already.”