The Union Budget has “unnecessarily defensive strokes, dropped catches and quite a few no balls”, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said in Lok Sabha on Monday, as he slammed the alleged failure to address key issues facing the economy, including farm distress, and rise in fuel prices.
Tharoor, who was initiating discussion on the Union Budget for 2019-20 in Lok Sabha, used cricket lexicon to target the Centre.
“Since cricket is on our minds these days with World Cup semi-final tomorrow, let me say that instead of bold boundaries we expected in this first budget after the elections, what we have are unnecessarily defensive strokes, drop catches and quite a few no balls and wide,” the Congress leader said.
He said the budget was characterised by a mediocre set of announcements, distinctive misses and deafening silence on matters of substance.
“We were left with a sort of ‘trishanku’ budget, neither here nor there,” he said.
There was hardly any mention of country’s GDP growth rate, he said, adding that the word ‘GDP’ came up only once.
“Hastily and ill thought through demonetisation bears the large share of responsibility for shutting down lakhs of small and micro enterprises, throwing many more lakhs of people out of work,” he alleged.
Tharoor also raised the issue of agrarian distress and farmer suicides.
“Our nation’s farmers who provide food security have in the last five years received step-motherly treatment form this government which has resulted in record level of farmer suicides,” he alleged.
The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in its current form is away from reality of the acute agrarian crisis the country is facing, Tharoor said, referring to the scheme of providing Rs 6,000 per year cash transfer to small and marginal farmers.
The government’s announcement that it was again targeting 3.3 per cent fiscal deficit target hardly inspires any confidence because it is the same figure the government announced last year and failed to meet, Tharoor said.
“Now the government is hoping for lakhs of crores (of rupees) by selling loss-making Air India. But the far more successful Jet Airways has failed to find a buyer. Who is going to bid for Air India?” he questioned.
Meanwhile, the common man, he said, was already paying the highest fuel prices in the world because of the government’s taxes on petrol and diesel at a time when prices of fuel were dropping worldwide.