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People Will Reject This ‘Capitalist Budget’, Says Chidambaram

The “capitalist” Union Budget 2022-23 is “obdurate” and “callous” as there is no cash assistance to the very poor who have been pushed into extreme poverty and suffered immensely during the last two years, former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference, he 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.”

The Budget may be passed in Parliament but will be rejected by the people, the Congress leader said.

He said that his party was astonished that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman 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.

Chidambaram accused the Finance Minister of not having a word “for those who had lost their jobs, for those whose education stopped at some stage at the school level, not a word about reviving MSMEs that had shut down, not 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”.

“By any standard, today’s budget speech was the most capitalist speech ever read by a Finance Minister. The FM has mastered the jargon of capitalist economics,” he said.

The former Finance Minister said that the macro-economic indicators are worrying, and on 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.”

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