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Opposition slams Centre over taxation proposals, economy; BJP terms budget as 'pro-development'

News Agencies | Updated on: 10 February 2020, 23:32 IST
Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha on Monday took up further discussion on the Union Budget with opposition members slamming the central government over its taxation proposals, its management of the economy and accused it of selling public sector undertakings.

The BJP members said that the budget paves the way to make India a USD 5 trillion economy, was pro-development and reflects the government's commitment to 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas'.

The House sat till late evening to conclude the debate on the Union Budget 2020-21. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will reply to the debate on Tuesday.

Participating in the debate, NCP member Supriya Sule said the vision of the Finance Ministry seems to be a bit confused because "the Economic Survey says one thing and the outcome Budget says something else".

She said normally budget is for one year but "most of their commitments are for five years and 10 years".

She alleged that members of treasury benches were "living in a bubble, absolutely away from reality and in a fairy tale world".

"The budget has exposed the failings of this government when it comes to fiscal health. The government seems to have run out of revenues completely when it really needed them the most. To achieve a five trillion dollar economy, what is the growth rate that is required? And you are talking of ten trillion dollar economy. We are not even crossing five trillion dollars with all the numbers that you are giving," she said.

Sule said the fiscal deficit was expected to be 3.5 per cent but it is already 3.8 per cent.

"The estimated net tax revenue was Rs 16,49,582 crore. It is actually now only Rs.15,04,587 crore. The disinvestment target is very important. They are looking at selling LIC, Air India," she said.

DMK member Dayanidhi Maran slammed the taxation proposals of the government.

"They have explained new taxation in a lovely way. Normally, masala dosa is sold for Rs 50. After the new taxation, the masala is sold for Rs 45 but conditions apply. What are the conditions? If you want Sambhar, pay extra Rs 15 or if you want chutney, pay extra Rs 15. So, what I was getting for Rs. 50 is now for Rs. 80," he said.

Maran said the government was discouraging people from savings.

"When I was born, and probably when you were born, the Indians would be asked to save. Savings was part and parcel of our blood. Everywhere you would go, they would say, `save, save, India needs savings'. The Indian population is embedded with savings. What is the Government doing? The Government is discouraging people from saving. The Government has reduced the interest rate on savings. Now, they want the public to spend their money," he said.

Slamming the government over its moves "to sell" Air India, he said that during the crisis when Indians have to be evacuated from Wuhan in China, it was Air India whose services were used.

"The Finance Minister is not only selling LIC, but she is also not only selling Air India, she is not only selling BPCL, BSNL and MTNL, she is selling the national highways too on the sly. She said that fast tag mechanism encourages greater commercialisation of our highways and the NHAI can raise more resources. The Government has started selling our highways now," he said.

Noting that Rs 12,000 crore of public money was spent on implementation of Aadhaar, he said a good finance minister's job is to reduce wasteful expenditure.

He questioned government spending money on the National Population Register (NPR) when Aadhaar contains dynamic data.

"Today if I want to get a passport, I have to have Aadhaar; if I want to open a bank account, I need Aadhaar; if I want to have a mobile connection, I have to have Aadhaar. Tomorrow when I die, to burn me or bury me they would ask for my Aadhaar. If my child has to go to school, he would need Aadhaar. Aadhaar contains dynamic data. Why does the Government want to spend another Rs.4,800 crore on NPR? When you have the dynamic data with you under which every detail is captured, why do you need to spend that money?" he asked.

"Why do you want to spend Rs.4,800 crore when you have the dynamic data already with you? Tamil Nadu gave the first call against NRC and NPR," he added.

Maran accused the government of trying to divide the country.

He said the Finance Minister talks about faceless appeals and says that income tax officers would not be there and it would not be biased and there would be tax-based data.

"What is happening in Tamil Nadu now? Because the elections are coming next year, Rajnikant got Rs.1 crore relief. Fantastic! But your faceless office is targeting actor Vijay. He was picked up from his shooting spot and his whole schedule got cancelled resulting in a huge loss," he said.

He also raised questions over the government's commitment to double the farmers' income.

BJP member Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the budget reflected the "mission and vision" of Prime Minister.

"It is a pro-development budget and takes everyone along. It will pave the way for India becoming $ 5 trillion economy," she said.

She alleged that the opposition does not see want to see the work the government and was only concerned about protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.

"The government was working to its commitment of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas'," he said.

Another BJP member Ramesh Bidhuri said that the Modi government has not allowed prices to rise.

He said the BJP government fulfils its commitments and had finished the works it had undertaken in a time-bound manner. Citing instances, he said projects which had been languishing for years had been completed by the government to provide relief to people.

BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab said measures have been taken to meet the challenges of the slowing economy, falling aggregate demand and to improve credit flows and exports.

He asked the government if there has been any consensus on defining the poverty line in the country.

He said a task force under the chairmanship of Arvind Panagariya submitted a report to the Prime Minister on July 11, 2016.

The BJD members said the terms of Reference for the Task Force included to `Develop a working definition of poverty' and it states that a consensus in favour of either the Tendulkar formula or a higher poverty line did not emerge.

Mahtab said the committee recommended forming another expert committee to arrive at an informed decision on the level at which the poverty line should be set.

"We are told on February 5 this year in reply to a question that it is still under consideration. It has not been decided yet since 2016," he said

The BJD member said the Economic Survey 2019-20 has very candidly and even arguably pushed forward pro-market reforms.

"It has delved into India's own past. It has argued that India's civilisational ethos has celebrated wealth creators. That is why it had allowed the country to be the dominant economic power globally for more than three-fourths of known economic history. Our four-decade-long dalliance with socialism, the Survey states, was an aberration from this norm. I may agree; I may not agree. But what the Economic Survey has stated this year very candidly is that the four-decade-long dalliance with socialism was an aberration from this norm," he said.

BJP member Locket Chatterjee slammed the Mamata Banerjee government in her speech. Union minister Smriti Irani and party members Hema Malini and Jagdambika Pal were among those also spoke.

Congress member Jothimani slammed the budget and asked why Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka had been left out of CAA.

BSP's Shyam Singh Yadav slammed the budget terming it "disappointing".

BV Satyavathi of YSCR party urged the government to fulfill the demand and "commitment" of special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

CPI-M's AM Ariff said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about remarks of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about intrusion by SDPI in anti-CAA protest.

"I cannot understand why the Prime Minister is so silent about the firm stand taken by Comrade Pinarayi Vijayan against the implementation of NRC and CAA," he said.

He said Kerala Assembly has passed a resolution demanding to scrap of CAA.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the budget estimates for Gross Tax Revenue in 2019 was Rs 24.6 lakh crore.

"In the second budget presented by the Finance Minister on 1st February, the revised estimate for gross tax revenue for the year 2019-20 is Rs. 21.6 lakh crore. There is a huge difference of Rs. 3 lakh crore. I want to know from the government as to why was this over-estimation done. Who did this? The Parliament is sacrosanct. You cannot mislead the Parliament. It was done to peg the budget estimate for the fiscal deficit lower than what a more accurate revenue estimate would have allowed," he said.


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First published: 10 February 2020, 23:32 IST