FM’s Offer To Play A Class Teacher To Clear Misunderstanding Over Budget Riles Opposition

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New Delhi: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman offering to play “a class teacher” to clear any doubt about the Union Budget that she presented on July 5 led to protests from the opposition quarters during her reply to the Budget debate in the Lok Sabha.

The finance minister’s comments that riled the opposition came right after she had explained the alleged anomalies raised by the opposition. The Lok Sabha concluded the debate on the Union Budget on Tuesday.

“Even though I feel like a class teacher, I will be happy to receive members in my room in Parliament (for any further clarifications) with due respect.” She said, triggering uproar in the House.

The minister was responding to allegations that the Budget and Economic Survey presented a day earlier on July had referenced two different GDP figures.

Sitharaman said, “Both the projections are consistent with each other as each of them project the nominal GDP of 211,607 crore for the year 2019-20.” She went on to explain that the perceived difference was merely technical since the Budget figures were based on the lower GDP base adopted by the government unlike the Economic Survey.

In her detailed response to the debate, she rejected suggestions that tax receipts as well as the government’s allocation to agricultural sector and UPA’s flagship employment guarantee scheme MNREGA had declined.

Sitharaman presented numbers to insist that tax receipts had actually increased, “The gross tax receipts are budgeted at Rs. 2,461,195 crore in the BE 2019-20 which marks an increase of Rs. 213,020 crore (9.48% increase) over 2018-19 RE,” she said

Replying to questions over MNREGA, she said the allocation to the rural employment programme had increased by Rs 5,000 crores and claimed that the NDA government had done a better job of implementing it as compared to the UPA government.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who had called the Budget disappointing, objected to Nirmala’s class teacher barb by saying, “We will ask for clarification if we feel any doubts, listening intently doesn’t mean that we can be misled.”

While TMC MP Saugata Roy had termed the Union Budget as “useless” and “directionless” holding “nothing for the poor and the farmers”, Jagan’s YSR Congress Party had alleged that enough funds weren’t allocated for irrigation and agriculture infrastructure.

 

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