Opposition slams Budget as ‘opaque’, ‘visionless’

Chidambaram said he found two interesting ideas in the Budget — Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation and the plans to set up a nationwide gas grid and a water grid — but was unable to comment on it for lack of details.

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday dismissed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden budget speech as an “opaque” exercise that made no mention of the total revenue, total expenditure or the revenue deficit.

“Has there ever been a Budget speech that does not disclose the total revenue, the total expenditure, the fiscal deficit, the revenue deficit, the additional revenue mobilisation or the financial concessions? We are shocked by this departure from usual practice,” former finance minister P Chidambaram told a press conference here.

Chidambaram said he found two interesting ideas in the Budget — Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation and the plans to set up a nationwide gas grid and a water grid — but was unable to comment on it for lack of details.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed the Union Budget as “completely visionless”.

“In fact, the total vision is derailed. On top of it, not only have they imposed cess but also special additional excise duty on petrol and diesel leading to a price increase by nearly Rs 2.50/litre for petrol and Rs 2.30/litre for diesel. As a result, price hikes will hit from transport to market to kitchens. Commoners are suffering and suffering,” Mamata said.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury described the Budget as “fraudulent”. “The finance minister has used February 2019 interim Budget’s revised estimates as the revised estimates for the whole year 2018-19! Expenditure cuts in the last quarter in the run-up to polls are not accounted for! So a rosy picture of the economy is based on jugglery,” Yechury said.

The Budget appears to have provided the Opposition with an opportunity to regroup and take the government head-on on a range of issues from the additional excise on petrol and diesel that could affect the common man.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it was just a repetition of “old promises”.

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