Budget lacks bold, structural reforms: Chidambaram

 

NEW DELHI, July 11:The Union Budget 2019-20 does not
chalk out a clear roadmap to take India on the high economic
growth path and lacks bold and structural reforms, former
finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram said
Thursday in Rajya Sabha.

Participating in the debate on the Budget, he also
downplayed the Modi government’s call of making India a USD 5
trillion economy by 2024-25, saying economy itself doubles due
to “magic of compounding” in six to seven years.

He also tried to corner Finance Minister Nirmala
Sitharaman, saying she did not present macro economic data,
including receipts from revenue, in her Budget Speech in Lok
Sabha on July 5.

Chidambaram said the Finance Minister should have
mentioned figures in her speech as people deserve to know
broad numbers as they do not go through annexures and other
Budget documents.

“I cannot recall a Budget Speech so bereft of macro
data,” he said, and urged the finance ministry to ensure
important data gets mention in the Budget Speech in future.

He also rued that there was no clarity on the exact
projections on the GDP.

Chidambaram said at one place the GDP growth has been
projected at 7 per cent and at other place it is 8 per cent.

“One per cent makes a huge difference,” he said, adding
the government, CGA, and Chief Economic Advisor could not
present a unified picture for the current fiscal.

He further said structural reforms were must for
achieving economic growth, but the Budget does not talk about
it.

“Show me on one structural reform. There is not one,” he
said.

He, however said “the Prime Minister has enough will to
take bold steps” for achieving economic growth.

“Tell us what structural reforms he will take to propel
India’s growth and take it to 8 per cent this year and to
double digit next year,” he asked.

He also took a jibe on the government’s claim that India
would be a USD 5 trillion economy.

The size of the economy is currently estimated at USD 2.7
trillion.

He said if the economy is growing at a nominal growth
rate of 12 per cent, it will double in 6 years even without a
finance minister. If the growth rate is 11 per cent economy
will double in 7 years.

“It will double (due to) magic of compounding. What is
this great number 5 trillion dollar. Please don’t put a pie in
the sky for people,” he said, and cited data to support his
point.

Pointing out that there was stagnation in gross fixed
capital formation in the country, Chidambaram said huge
investments are required for firing engines of growth.

And for investments domestic savings are pertinent.

“There is nothing in the Budget to improve domestic

savings,” he said.

He also asked the government to fix realistic targets
for revenue collection for achieving expenditure goals.

In an apparent jibe at former finance minister Arun
Jaitley, Chidambaram said Sitharaman inherited a “wobbly
economy” and accused the government of waiving corporate loans
worth Rs 5.55 lakh crore during the NDA-1 Government. (PTI)

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