Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: Criticising the Union budget as one that would aggravate the problems of price rise and fiscal deficit, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said here on Friday that he is “deeply disappointed with Pranab Mukherjee's budget.”

Speaking at an interactive session on the budget organised by the Swadeshi Research Institute, Mr. Sinha pointed out that rather than prioritising the issue of rising prices of essential commodities, the budget has taken recourse to measures like increase of service tax, indirect tax and hike in price of petroleum products, which he alleged, will have a “cascading effect on the economy.”

“At a time when the situation is already taut, people have been pressurised from three sides. Excise duty has been increased by two per cent in the name of rollback of stimulus, service tax has been increased and also the price of petrol has been hiked…this will not only lead to the increase of price of goods, it will also affect the money market,” he said.

Mr. Sinha underscored the point that the budgetary measures would result in higher interest rates and lower investment while price of all production goods would increase due to the hike in price of coal and petrol.

“My direct allegation is that this situation is self-inflicted and that the Centre has no real intention to tackle the price-rise issue at all,” he added. On the food inflation, Mr. Sinha accused Mr. Mukherjee of bypassing the issue in his budgetary speech.

Taking a dig at the Finance Minister's decision to withdraw excise duty on toy balloons, Mr. Sinha said: “When crop failure and escalating prices of foodgrains and other essential commodities are such serious issues, the Finance Minister referred it as a problem of last year and claimed that the crisis has been weathered.”

Alleging “wide-scale mismanagement and corruption” to be the reasons behind the soaring price of sugar, he demanded for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the matter.