New Delhi, Mar.27 (ANI): Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Naresh Gujral, who represents the Shiromani Akali Dal, has described Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's budget proposals for fiscal 2012-13 as "extremely disappointing and lackluster".
In a speech delivered in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Gujral accused the UPA-II regime of mismanaging the country's finances in the last year, and thus, "virtually crippled our economy."
"The common man has been crushed under the weight of double digit inflation, loss of jobs in the labour intensive sectors, and the failure of the delivery system which has made it difficult for the huge amounts of money earmarked for welfare schemes to reach the intended beneficiaries," Gujral said in his address.
" The plight of the farmer has been especially pitiable as the input costs have gone up exponentially without a corresponding increase in MSP. As a result, we have witnessed huge dissatisfaction all around, as exemplified by the increase in farmers committing suicide," he added.
He also criticized the government for the estimated 5.9 percent deficit as a percentage of the GDP, which he warned "would mean extremely high borrowings from the banking sector that would not only squeeze out the private sector borrowings but also keep interest rates high. This in turn, would impact the inflation rate."
Gujral further said that given the current rate of inflation and the government increasing the taxes all around, as well as the energy prices going northwards, he could do not understand how Mukherjee expected the savings rate to grow, which he added, is essential for higher capital formation and rapid industrial investment.
He also expressed his dismay over fertilizers' prices going up from 40 to 70 percent.
He expressed his lament over seed prices going up and the price of diesel going up by almost 50 percent, even as "the MSP has gone up by only 10 - 12 percent".
He warned that a further reduction of fertilizer subsidy would mean even higher prices that would lead to reduced consumption and hence lower yields per acre.
He said that the least the government should do is to analyse the impact of the removal of subsidy on fertilizers, increase in the price of diesel as well as seeds and pesticides and announce a fresh and realistic MSP immediately.
"I know the Government will hesitate to do so because it fears that this will lead to increase in food prices. I just want to remind the Hon. Minister that burdening the impoverished farmer any further would lead to social unrest in the country," Gujral said.
He urged Mukherjee to ensure that "social schemes for our poor must find adequate funding. He cannot do away with all subsidies overnight. He has to provide for modernizing and equipping our defence forces, given the security threat around us. He needs to ensure that Railways must be adequately funded to ensure passenger safety and comfort as well as increase in freight capacity."
"To meet these challenges, I would have expected some out of the box thinking. The disinvestment target of 2011 - 12 was Rs. 40,000 Crore but the government achieved a meager Rs. 14,000 crore and that too at the fag end of the financial year. The current year's target of Rs. 30,000 crore is extremely inadequate," Gujral added.
"I am not saying that Government should lose control over the Navratnas but I see no reason why it can't step up this target to at least Rs. 1 lac crore and thereby reduce its deficit. It would be pragmatic to privatise perpetually loss making PSUs which could actually be turned around by the private sector, thereby creating more jobs," Gujral said. (ANI)
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