Congress leader, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram calls budget 2023 ‘callous’


In a sharp criticism of the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, former Union Finance Minister and veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram declared the budget “callous”. He accused the government of betraying the expectations of the majority of the population and being disconnected from the real-life concerns of the people regarding their livelihoods and the widening wealth gap between the rich and poor.

“Let me begin by pointing out, with regret, that the FM has not mentioned the words unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity anywhere in her speech. Mercifully, she mentioned the word poor twice in her speech. I am sure the people of India will take note of who is concerned about the government and who is not,” said Chidambaram.

In his critique of the Union Budget, Chidambaram expressed his concerns about the lower than estimated Capital Expenditure and Effective Capital Expenditure of the central government. He questioned, “So, what drove growth in 2022-23? We know that private investment is down, exports are down and private consumption is stagnant. So, how does the government explain the 7 per cent growth in the current year?”

Chidambaram further criticized the budget, stating that no taxes have been reduced except for the small number who have opted for the new tax regime.

He said, “No taxes have been reduced except for the small number who have opted for the new tax regime. No indirect taxes have been reduced. There is no cut in the cruel and irrational GST rates. There is no reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, cement, fertilizers etc. There is no cut in the numerous surcharges and cesses which are, anyway, not shared with the State governments.”

He added, “Who has benefited from this Budget? Certainly, not the poor. Not the youth looking desperately for jobs. Not those who have been laid off. Not the bulk of the taxpayers. Not the homemaker. Not the thinking Indians who are shocked by the growing inequality, the rise of the number of billionaires and the wealth being accumulated in the hands of the 1 per cent of the population. Certainly, not you.”

“The government’s focus on pushing the ‘new’ tax regime, which has few takers due to various reasons, is unjust and will rob the ordinary taxpayer of the minimal social security they may receive under the old tax regime,” Chidambaram commented.

He went on to claim that the government is determined to promote the fortunes of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Ahmedabad at the expense of other financial centers.

Chidambaram further criticized the government for ignoring the headwinds faced by India and the world, as listed in the Economic Survey. “The government is living in its own imaginary world and the budget speech did not acknowledge the challenges faced,” he stated.

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(With inputs from ANI)

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Updated: 02 Feb 2023, 04:25 AM IST

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