Accusing Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of pleasing just the corporates and the income-tax payers, his predecessor in the UPA regime P Chidambaram on Saturday said the Modi government’s first full Budget has failed the fiscal test, the test of equity, and the test of rising inequality.
“If one asks who is pleased by the Budget, I suspect it will be the corporates and the income-tax payers (3.5 crore). Where does that leave the vast majority of the people, especially the poor, who look up to the government for succour and relief?,” Chidambaram said in a statement.
“While the income-tax payers (3.5 crore) may have got some relief, all others have been burdened with increases in Excise duty and Service Tax,” the former finance minister added.
He said that there was no justification at all to set back the target date of achieving a fiscal deficit of 3 per cent by one year.
“On the fiscal test, therefore the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has failed,” Chidambaram who was finance minister in the UPA government and United Front government said.
Jaitley today pegged fiscal deficit for 2015-16 at 3.9 per cent of GDP and proposed to lower it to 3 per cent by 2017-18, a year later than planned earlier.
Chidambaram also questioned government’s claim that it has stretched the fiscal deficit from 3.6 per cent to 3.9 per cent in order to fund growth.
“This is a questionable claim. 0.3 per cent means that the government will borrow an additional amount of Rs 37,500 crore. To what use has this money been put,” he said.
The Harvard educated lawyer further said in the test of equity and the test of rising inequality, the government has not even acknowledged these issues.
“The landless labourer, the agriculture worker, the casual and Badli worker in industry, the unemployed young person, the woman in a self-help group, the self employed person who is below the income-tax threshold, the disabled person, the scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes and the minorities will ask the question if the government is aware of their existence and their problems,” Chidambaram said.
“...Plan expenditure is the usual metric by which the quality of government’s expenditure is judged. On this account also, I am afraid the government has failed the people of India,” he said.