Watch: Chidambaram shoots ’12 questions’ at Modi govt over economic policy
Former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram
picked holes in the government budget for 2018-19 during a debate on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, alleging that the Narendra Modi
dispensation has engaged in making false promises with the forthcoming elections in mind and has thrown fiscal prudence out in the process.
Chidambaram posed 12 questions to the government on finance minister Arun Jaitley
‘s budget even as he was all praise for chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian. He said the Economic Survey was a thoroughly researched document but its suggestions, especially on giving top priority to education, employment and agriculture, has been ignored by the government.
“Unfortunately, the chief economic adviser has been a good doctor but the government is a terrible patient. The diagnosis of the doctor is that the patient is very ill, maybe terminally ill,” Chidambaram said.
Posing his first question, the Congress leader alleged that the government has made the fiscal deficit situation worse — from 3.2% to 3.5% this year and a target of 3.3% from 3% next year.
He charged the Centre with breaching the target set by the Modi government and asked if high deficits will not be inflationary. “Currently, WPI is 3.6% and CPI is 5.2%. What are the estimates of average WPI and average CPI for 2017-18 and 2018-19?” he asked.
Chidambaram emphasised that since the yield on 10-year treasury bonds on January 31, 2018 was 7.43% and 7.57% on Wednesday, is this a signal that interest rates will rise across all debt instruments and add to inflation.
“What if the price of crude oil rises to $70 or $75, how will it impact your Budget estimates, especially the deficits? Will you raise the retail prices of petrol and diesel or will you cut the central excise duties on petrol and diesel?” he asked.
The former finance minister said the government will borrow an additional Rs 48,000 crore in 2017-18. Another Rs 37,000 crore has already been borrowed by ONGC on behalf of the government. “Where did this Rs 85,000 crore go? Total expenditure in 2017-18 increased by Rs 71,000 crore, but revenue expenditure increased by Rs 1,07,371 crore! Is this not evidence of a spendthrift government that has abandoned all norms of fiscal prudence?” Chidambaram asked.
via Budget 2018: Modi govt’s economic policy a betrayal, says Chidambaram – The Economic Times