While Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday said the Union budget was a poor reflection of the Centre's commitment to take the economy forward on a growth trajectory, DMK president M. Karunanidhi wondered whether it would be growth-oriented or ameliorate the living conditions of people.
Ms. Jayalalithaa was highly critical of the budget, describing it as “an exercise in futility, an ill-wind that blows nobody any good”, and “anti-people.”
Mr. Karunanidhi, who of late has been critical of the UPA government's stand on many issues, said there were no efforts to control or bring down the price rise.
“It is a mixed bag with some positive aspects and there are measures that could have been avoided. We have to wait and see whether it will take the economy forward and improve the living conditions of the people,” Mr Karunanidhi, an ally of the Congress-led UPA, said.
Mr. Karunanidhi said the Union Minister should reconsider his plant to cut down subsidies to overcome the fiscal deficit, arguing that a developing country like India could not afford to dispense with subsidies. He also expressed unhappiness over the decision to divest the public sector shares to mobilise Rs.30,000 crore.
Welcoming a few schemes and announcements, Mr. Karunanidhi said many expected the income tax ceiling to be raised to Rs.3 lakh, but it was disappointing that it went up only to Rs.2 lakh.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said that while the Indian economy was at the crossroads, calling for some bold measures to stem the price rise, build investor confidence, enhance the purchasing power of the common people and put the economy back on track, no serious attempt had been made to address the grave concerns afflicting it.
“The Union Finance Minister has announced some marginal concessions to the middle class income tax payers in the hope of garnering their support, she said, stressing that these concessions would not really help even the middle class when their purchasing power has been eroded considerably.
Ms. Jayalalithaa also alleged that the requisite focus on infrastructure has not been provided in this budget, saying the Finance Minister had not come out with any rational forward looking policy for private investment and public-private partnership in these areas of infrastructure while adding a few more sectors in viability gap funding.
She said there was no announcement to enable the States to directly raise resources to implement infrastructure projects.
Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam leader Vijayakant described the budget “anti-people” as it had imposed taxes on the people and adopted a retrograde policy of promoting rich corporate companies to boost the economy. “Ordinary people hoped that the income tax ceiling would be raised up to Rs.3 lakh. At a time inflating is on an ascending mode revising the ceiling to Rs.2 lakh will be of no use to them.”
Mr. Vijayakant said growth could be achieved if the Centre was prepared to give up unnecessary expenditure and allowed the State governments to concentrate on education, health, housing, drinking water and social security schemes.
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko said though food production was projected to be 25 crore tonne, there was no concrete proposal in the budget to achieve the target.
He said the reduction in the interest rates on provident fund before the presentation of the budget would affect crores of workers.
Keywords: Union Budget 2012-13