Nirmala Sitharaman says Budget aimed at making country self-reliant, provide growth stimulus; slams Opposition’s ‘false narratives’
Taking cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too batted for empowering the entrepreneur more. Responding to the debate on Part A of the Budget in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, she. said the Budget is aimed at making the country self-reliant and providing stimulus for medium and long-term growth.
This seemed to be hitting out at the Opposition’s allegations of the Budget and government policies supporting a select group of businesses and crony capitalism. Focus on disinvestment, privatisation and asset monetisation in the Budget further fuelled this discussion. The Finance Minister termed these ‘false narratives’ created by the Opposition.
Sitharaman said the Budget is the instrument for Atmanirbhar Bharat, at a time when economies across the global had suffered due to the pandemic. “Attempt made in this Budget is to provide stimulus, strong stimulus, which can bring about a multiplier effect and therefore instead of finding quick short-term solutions — even as we provide short-term quick relief for those people who so desperately need it — we are looking also at medium and long-term sustainable growth, which will keep India in that kind of growth trajectory, which will maintain us as one of those fastest-growing economies in the world,” she said.
She said despite government scheme and initiatives for sectors ranging from roads to agriculture, housing, scholarships to electricity benefiting lives of people, a false narrative was being created by the Opposition that the government was working for cronies.
“It has now become a sort of a habit for some in the Opposition to constantly allege whatever this government is doing — in spite of what we are doing for the poor and more needs to be done, and that is not denied at all — in spite of the obviously seen steps taken for helping poor and needy of this country,” she said.
Houses completed under PM Awas Yojana stand at more than 1.67 crore, while households, which have been electrified under Saubhagya scheme since October 2017, is more than 2.67 crore, she said. “The length of road sanctioned under PM Gram Sarak Yojana between 2014-15 and now is over 2.11 lakh km. Those roads go to villages, are they villages for the rich? Are they villages where the poor do not live? Whose lifelines are these roads,” she said asserting that those making allegations must answer these questions.
Replying to an allegation on ‘numbers are suspect’, the Finance Minister took an example of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and attacked the opposition Congress for failing to utilise the entire amount allocated in the Budgets when they were in power.
She said during the Covid pandemic year, the government has spent ₹90,469 crore under the MNREGA rural employment scheme, which is highest ever. For 2020-21, the Budget Estimate was ₹61,500 crore for the scheme, which has been increased to ₹1,11,500 crore in the Revised Estimates.
“Your track record is bad. Never was your Budget Estimate met,” the Finance Minister said as she reeled out data from 2009-10 and subsequent years under the Congress-led UPA regime.