Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has slammed the latest Union Budget presented by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and shot 12 questions in this context at the leading dispensation, at the Rajya Sabha.
Claiming the budget worsened the fiscal deficit, Chidambaram jeered, "Shall we tell the people, the NDA government believes that we must tax the hard-working middle class rather than the rich corporates?"
Here are the 12 questions posed by him:-
- "Budget 2018-19 has made the fiscal deficit worse: 3.5 percent against 3.2 percent in 2017-18 and 3.3 per cent against 3.0 per cent in 2018-19. What are the estimates of the Current Account Deficit for 2017-18 and 2018-19?
- "Every deficit has breached the target set by the government. Will the impact of these high deficits be inflationary? Currently, Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is 3.6 per cent and Consumer price index (CPI) is 5.2 per cent. What are the estimates of average WPI and average CPI for 2017-18 and 2018-19?"
- "The yield on 10-year-treasury bond on 31st January 2018 was 7.43 per cent and it stood yesterday at 7.57 per cent. Is this a signal that interest rates will rise across all debt instruments? Will the rise in interest rates be inflationary?"
- "Suppose the price of crude oil rises to USD 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?"
- "Government will borrow an additional Rs 48,000 crore in 2017-18. Add another Rs 37,000 crore that ONGC borrowed 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?"
- "Capital expenditure was budgeted in 2017-18 for Rs 3,09,801 crore. The revised estimate is Rs 2,73,445 crore - a shortfall of Rs 36,000 crore. Which are the schemes and projects that took a hit in capital expenditure?"
- "For 2018-19, government has estimated nominal GDP growth at 11.5 per cent. Is the additional 1 per cent due to higher inflation or higher growth? What is your estimate of real GDP growth in 2018-19?"
- "Before you assumed office, you promised 2 crore jobs a year. The ILO describes a proper job as employment that is certain, regular and reasonably secure. What is your definition of a job? How many ILO-described jobs were created in the four years of your government?"
- "In 2017-18, the budget estimates of customs duties was Rs 2,45,000 crore. The revised estimates show a drastic fall to Rs 1,35,242 crore. Is there a story there that you have not yet told the country and the people?"
- "GST came into effect on 1st July, 2017. Your GST revenue collection for 2017-18 is estimated at Rs 4,44,631 crore. Is this collection for 8 months (excluding March 2018) or for nine months or for 11 months (as you have said repeatedly)?"
- "For 2018-19, you have projected that gross tax revenue will grow by 16.7 per cent when nominal GDP growth will be 11.5 per cent. Is the tax growth rate of 16.7 per cent realistic or ambitious or aggressive?"
He had criticised the budget on earlier occasions too: