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20220201

Chidambaram slams Union Budget, says Nirmala Sitharaman's speech 'was most capitalist ever' by Finance Minister

New Delhi : Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday slammed the Union Budget saying there was "not a word" about giving relief to the tax-paying middle class or cash assistance to the very poor and the budget speech "was the most capitalist speech" ever read by a Finance Minister. Addressing a press conference here, Chidambaram said the people will reject the "capitalist budget" presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in parliament. He said the word 'poor' appears only twice. "By any standard, today's budget speech was the most capitalist speech ever read by a Finance Minister. The Finance Minister has mastered the jargon of capitalist economics. Read her speech again: count the number of times she used the words digital, portal, IT-based, paperless, database, ecosystem, global, atmanirbhar. The word 'poor' occurs twice in paragraph six, and we thank the FM for remembering that there are poor people in this country," he said. The Former Finance Minister said the "government behaves and acts as though it is on the right path" and has delivered on the issues that matter to the common people. "This is false. This is also bull-headed obduracy. This also reflects the government's contemptuous disregard of the burdens and sufferings of the people," he said. "I was astonished the Finance Minister was outlining a plan for the next 25 years, which she called the Amrit Kaal! The government seems to believe that the present does not need any attention and the people living in the present can be asked to wait patiently until the Amrit Kaal dawns. This is nothing but mocking the people of India, especially the poor and the deprived," he said. "There was not a word in the speech about any cash assistance to the very poor who have been pushed into extreme poverty and suffered immensely during the last two years not a word for those who had lost their jobs; not a word about creating jobs for those whose education stopped at some stage at the school level; not a word about reviving MSMEs that had shut down," he alleged. He said the budget did not have "a word about distributing more food to combat malnutrition and hunger; not a word about cutting indirect taxes, especially GST, to contain inflation and bring down the prices of goods; and not a word about giving tax relief to the tax-paying middle class or the tax-bearing head of a household". Chidambaram said there are "worrying macro-economic indicators". "Top of the list is that the fiscal deficit (FD) for 2021-22 has overshot the target of 6.8 per cent and is estimated at 6.9 per cent. For next year, it will be 6.4 per cent. That is an insufficient correction if the goal is to reach 4 per cent three years hence by 2025-26. The financing of the FD is also a matter of concern. 70 per cent of the FD in 2022-23 will be financed by market borrowing as against 55 per cent in the current year, crowding out private sector borrowing," Chidambaram said. The Congress leader said the total subsidy bill has been cut "by a humongous 27 per cent". "This is the most unkindest cut in this budget. The FM may have forgotten the poor but the poor have long memories," he said. He said there is not a word in the budget about raising more resources from the rich, especially the "very, very rich 142 persons whose wealth in the last two years has increased from Rs 23,14,000 crore to Rs 53,16,000 crore".

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