New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday (February 12) said the Budget is aimed at making India self-reliant and provides a strong stimulus for medium to long term sustainable high growth.
Replying to the discussion on the Budget 2021-22, she attacked former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram for suspecting the Budget numbers without mentioning his name. She said, “What you get as Budget is what you get in it. No pushing anything under the carpet…”
Highlighting instances in the 2007-08 Budget, she said those numbers were “suspect”, adding “I will give three concrete proofs of how accounts were suspect. I can give you clear proof of how data became suspect at times, which did not occur under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Sitharaman suggested that 60 per cent jump in 2007-08 Capex numbers also included Rs 40,000 crore financially neutral deal involving the RBI and SBI. She further said that if the Rs 40,000 crore is removed, the actual Capex growth that year would come to around 7 per cent. She stressed that 34.5 per cent growth in Capex this year is the highest-ever.
The Finance Minister also attacked the opposition over its claims that the Centre works for the benefit of `crony capitalists`.
Budget for Aatmanirbhar Bharat
She stressed that the Budget is for Aatmanirbhar Bharat, adding “an attempt made in this Budget is to provide strong stimulus and provide such a stimulus which can bring in that kind of a multiplier effect…”.
The FM further said, “We are also looking at medium to long-term sustainable growth which will keep India in that kind of growth trajectory which will maintain us as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.”
With coronavirus pandemic affecting economic activities in the country, India’s GDP growth is estimated to contract to a historic low of 7.7 per cent in the financial year ending March 2021. The economy is likely to pick up in the next fiscal and expand by about 11 per cent, as per various estimates.
Highest ever spending under MNREGA during FY21
The Finance Minister said the NDA government has removed all ills from the rural-employment guarantee scheme MNREGA and spent the highest ever about Rs 90,500 crore so far this fiscal.
Replying to the Budget debate in the Rajya Sabha, she attacked the opposition Congress failing to utilise the entire amount allocated in the Budgets when they were in power.
She said during the COVID pandemic year, the government has spent Rs 90,469 crore under the MNREGA rural employment scheme, which highest ever. For 2020-21, she said, the budget estimate was Rs 61,500 crore for the scheme, which has been increased to Rs 1,11,500 in the revised estimates.
“Your track record is bad. Never your budget estimate was met,” the finance minister said as she reeled out data from 2009-10 and subsequent years under the Congress-led UPA regime.
FM flays false narrative around Budget
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attacked opposition parties for creating a ‘false narrative’ around her budget of being pro-rich, saying from free foodgrains, gas to building roads and houses have been for the poor.
“Attempt made in this budget is to provide stimulus, a strong stimulus which can bring about a multiplier effect and therefore instead of finding quick short term solutions — even as we provide short term quick relief for those people who so desperately need it — we are looking also at medium and long term sustainable growth which will keep India in that kind of growth trajectory, which will maintain us as one of those fastest-growing economies in the world,” she said.
She said that despite government schemes and initiatives ranging from roads to agriculture, housing, scholarships to electricity benefiting the lives of people, a false narrative was being created by the opposition that the government was working for cronies.
The FM further said, “It has now become a sort of a habit for some in opposition to constantly allege whatever this Government is doing – in spite of what we are doing for the poor and more needs to be done, and that is not denied at all – in spite of the obviously seen steps taken for helping poor and needy of this country, a false narrative is created to accuse, saying this government works only for cronies.”
Houses completed under PM Awas Yojana stands at more than 1.67 crore, while households, which have been electrified under Saubhagya scheme since October 2017, is more than 2.67 crore, she said, adding “The length of road sanctioned under PM Gram Sarak Yojana between 2014-15 and those years…2,11,192 kms…Those roads go to villages…Are they villages for the rich? Are they villages where the poor do not live? Whose lifeline are these roads.”
(With Agency Inputs)