Anti-State mentality to the fore, says Jayalalithaa
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday came down heavily on the Union Budget, terming it a “daydream, cosmetic budget” by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.
Calling it an “uninspiring damp squib,” full of rhetoric, without any tangible steps to tackle the deep crisis confronting the Indian economy, the Chief Minister said it paid lip service to the cause of the common people, but did little to correct deeper structural issues.
Holding the Centre responsible for triggering inflation by raising fuel cost and increasing railway freight rates, she said the Union government had created a situation “wherein the southward movement of inflation is a near impossibility in the near future.”
Reacting strongly to the steep revision in spending on social sectors during the current financial year, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “These deep cuts raise a number of unanswered issues. What is to be done where State governments have already spent substantial sums based on approvals of their Annual Work Plans?”
She accused the Union government of seeking to reach its fiscal deficit target in the current year at the expense of the States.
The “much discussed Finance Minister’s promise of containing fiscal deficit” had been done solely at the expense of the vital grants provided to the States and “unceremonious cuts” in the promised allocations in the Budget 2012-13.
By reducing the allocation in Revised Estimates (RE) 2012-13 and hiking it in Budget Estimates (BE) 2013-14, an unsuccessful attempt was being made to create a rosy picture of a substantial hike in allocations by comparing it with substantially reduced RE.
“The deep cuts imply that the Budget Estimates presented to Parliament lack sanctity and where is the guarantee that the increases that are proposed in many crucial social outlays will be provided for in 2013-14?”
She demanded that the cuts imposed in the RE 2012-13 be rolled back and full releases on the promised outlays should be made.
The Union government should give up its attempt at “sleight of hand” and come clean and ensure that the States and the public did not suffer.
Apart from a slew of jargon, there was no concrete and tangible action to provide a stimulus to the sagging economy. Budget announcements regarding financial infrastructure projects and PPP projects might not enthuse investors as in the past.
“In the proposed changes in guidelines for implementation of plan schemes also, such changes seem to benefit only Congress-ruled or election-bound States,” she said, adding that the anti-State mentality of the Union government resonated in every issue of vital importance to the States.
After announcing financial restructuring plan for electricity distribution companies, the Central government had not allocated even a single rupee for this issue. On the GST (Goods and Services Tax) issue also, there was no provision for compensating the States in 2012 and the promised sum of Rs. 9,000 crores for 2013-14 was grossly inadequate.
She concluded her statement with one more criticism, contending that the measures announced for promotion of exports were very minimal, while many sops had been announced for foreign investment.
“This clearly reveals that the UPA Government at the Centre acts more for the foreign investor than for any domestic constituency.”