New Delhi: Former Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya wondered aloud how the Congress would finance the ambitious ‘NYAY‘ (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) or the minimum income scheme, calling it ‘almost impossible’ while speaking to news agency ANI.

He said, “If you are giving Rs 72,000 per annum to five crore families then there will be an expense of Rs 3.6 Lakh Crore – this is 13 per cent of the total budget of central government… No one has given details of scheme that how Rs 3.6 Lakh Crore will be arranged to implement it. It’s more than our defence budget. Fiscal situation is always tight, it is almost impossible to take out 13 per cent of the budget.”

Arvind Panagariya’s comments come only hours ahead of the Congress party’s scheduled poll manifesto release on Tuesday.

The Congress party on March 25 announced that it would roll out NYAY and help 20 per cent of the poorest families earn at least Rs 72,000 every year. Explaining the details of the party’s promised scheme, party president Rahul Gandhi said that 20 per cent of the most poor families will be given Rs 72,000 crore every year. The amount will be transferred directly to the accounts of 20 per cent of the poorest families.

He subsequently clarified that the scheme will supplement the income of the poor if it is less than Rs 12,000 per month.

“The minimum income line is Rs 12,000 per month. Whatever the difference — say the income is Rs 6,000 — we will top it up. Those who earn less than Rs 12,000, we will take their earnings to Rs 12,000,” Gandhi said.