Congress leader, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram calls budget 2023 ‘callous’

In a scathing criticism of the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, former Union Finance Minister and former Congress leader P Chidambaram declared the budget “fraudulent”. He accused the government of betraying the expectations of the majority of the population and of being disconnected from the real concerns of the people regarding their livelihoods and the widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor.

“Let me begin by pointing out that, with regret, the FM has not mentioned the words unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity anywhere in her speech. Mercifully, she mentioned the word poor twice in her speech. I am sure the people of India will notice who is worried about the government and who is not,” Chidambaram said.

In his review of the Union Budget, Chidambaram expressed his concern about lower than estimated Capital Expenditure and Effective Capital Expenditure of the central government. He asked, “So what will drive the growth in 2022-23? We know that private investment is down, exports are down and private consumption is stagnant. So how does the government explain the 7 percent growth in current year?”

Chidambaram further criticized the budget, saying that no taxes were reduced except for the few who opted for the new tax system.

He said, “No taxes have been reduced except the few who chose the new tax system. No indirect taxes have been reduced. There is no cut in the cruel and unreasonable GST rates. There is no reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, cement, fertilizers etc. There is no cut on the many surcharges and quits that are not shared, in any case, with the State governments.”

He added, “Who has benefited from this Budget? Certainly not the poor. The youth are not looking hard for jobs. Not the unemployed. Not the majority of taxpayers. Not the household chores. It’s not the thinking Indians. Surprised by the growing inequality, the increase in the number of billionaires and the wealth accumulating in the hands of the 1 percent of the population. Certainly not you.”

“The government’s focus on pushing the ‘new’ tax system, which many people are not accepting for a variety of reasons, is unfair and will deprive the ordinary taxpayer of the minimal social security they can get under the old tax regime ,” Chidambaram said.

He went on to claim that the government is determined to promote the success of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Ahmedabad at the expense of other financial centres.

Chidambaram further criticized the government for ignoring the priorities of India and the world, as listed in the Economic Survey. “The government is living in its own imaginary world and the budget speech did not acknowledge the challenges that were being faced,” he said.

Click here to read more stories related to the Budget.

(With input from ANI)

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Updated: 02 February 2023, 04:25 AM IST

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