New Delhi: Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said the NDA government's efforts have helped to improve farmers' economic condition and refuted the criticism that the Rs 6,000 annual income support to them was meagre.
The Minister said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted an honest budget. So the fiscal deficit target was marginally raised to 3.4 per cent though the target could have mentioned as 3.3 per cent.
Replying to the discussions on the Interim Budget which was later passed by voice vote, he said the amount allocated for farmers in the 2019 Budget was not small and provided constant annual income support.
"About 12 crore farmers getting Rs 6,000 each year which translates into Rs 7.5 lakh crore in a span of 10 years is not small by any means," he said, adding that the government had provided earlier higher MSP for 22 crops and that there had been marked a improvement in the condition of farmers with steps like Ayushman Bharat.
Goyal also refuted the criticism that the government had presented a full Budget in an election year.
"We have not announced any new scheme for next year's Budget. Rather, in 2014, the then UPA Finance Minister, without waiting for a regular Budget, had cut the duty on SUVs and big luxury cars for the rich while tinkering with the tax rates which is unusual in the Interim Budget."
He asked whether an SUV was purchased by the middle class and farmers.
The Minister took another dig at the UPA government saying no benefits were given to the farmers in Budget 2009 but loans to the farmers doubled in the NDA government's rule.
He said the Congress only brought one announcement in their 10 years from 2004-14 pertaining to farmers -- a farm loan waiver of Rs 60,000 crore. According to Goyal, even that was not provided in the Budget and the actual number was brought down to Rs 52,000 crore a year later.
The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Interim Budget for 2019-20 after a day-long discussion.
Goyal introduced the Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill in the House amid din. The Bills were passed by voice vote after the Minister's reply.
He said the government had worked for all sections of the society and had taken care of them in this budget.
"The poor, farmers and the middle class are the government's priorities. Our government was the first to increase minimum support price (MSP) for farmers," Goyal said.