Budget is defeatist, a big letdown: Congress

New Delhi, Feb 1  Terming Budget 2018-19 “defeatist” and a “big letdown”, the Congress today said the government has “thrown in the towel” and conceded that it has failed to address key issues in the economy.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at the government, saying only promises were made in the past four years and “thankfully” just one year of the Modi dispensation is left.

“4 years gone; still promising FARMERS a fair price. 4 years gone; FANCY SCHEMES, with NO matching budgets. 4 years gone; no JOBS for our YOUTH. Thankfully, only 1 more year to go. Budget2018,” he said on Twitter.

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said the budget proposals should have been “bold and radical”.

He also said the Budget for 2018-19 is the last full budget of this government, “and I should thank god for that”.

“It is a defeatist budget. I think they have thrown in the towel. They have run out of ideas, they have run out of gas. It is just words, it is the defeatist budget; it is a budget of a government which has conceded that it has failed to address important issues in the last three years,” he said.

Terming the budget a “big disappointment”, Chidambaram said, “The Budget proposals should have been bold and radical, and backed by adequate provision of funds. Unfortunately, the Budget proposals are a big letdown.”

He said that it is up to this government, if it can take the 6.5 pc GDP growth in 2017-18 to 7.75 pc in 2018-19, “but given this Budget, I think, it is pretty much not possible”.

The senior Congress spokesperson also picked holes in the government’s budgetary promise of providing insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore poor families and said it was a big “jumla” (gimmick).

“The promise of Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary healthcare is a big ‘jumla’. The target group is 10 crore families. There is, as yet, no scheme,” he said.

He said that assuming that each family will avail Rs 50,000, the amount required per year will be Rs 5 lakh crore.

“Is the FM serious?” Chidambaram asked.

“The FM failed the fiscal consolidation test. All deficits have crossed the budget estimates. Against a BE fiscal deficit target for 2017-18 of 3.2, the final number will be 3.5.

“Even that is questionable. Similarly, for 2018-19, against a target of 3.0, FM has pegged it at 3.2. Both these slippages will have serious consequences and raise grave doubts about India’s commitment to fiscal consolidation,” he said.

The Centre today announced the world’s largest government funded health care programme, aimed at benefiting 10 crore poor families by providing coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

The National Health Protection Scheme, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget for 2018-19, will cover approximately 50 crore people.

Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala said all the promises made so far by the Narendra Modi government have been “jumlas” and those made in the budget today also are the same.

“Modinomics + Jaiitleynomics = Jumlanomics,” he tweeted.

Surjewala and Chidambaram also congratulated the people of Rajasthan for the victory of Congress candidates in the state bypolls.

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