Trashing the Union Budget as high on pomposity and low on tangibles, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said the economy was clearly not a priority for the BJP-led Central Government, which was too busy pursuing its negative and divisive agenda.There was nothing in the budget, he said, that could pave the way for economic reforms or raise public consumption that was an imperative for reviving the economy. The budget was nothing but mere rhetoric, said the Chief Minister, adding that it had failed to address the problems of any section of the society, be it the farmers, the youth, the industry/business or the middle class and the poor.Far from reviving business sentiment, the non-visionary budget, which reflected the Union Government’s total apathy to the needs and aspirations of the people, would plunge the economy further to abysmal depths, warned Captain Amarinder.Pointing to the Finance Minister’s failure to even mention the economic slowdown of 2019-20, the Chief Minister said this showed that the Centre had no intention of addressing the problems faced by the economy. The budget has dashed the hopes of one and all, with the famers still waiting for a solution to their debt stress and the challenge of stubble burning, the industry feeling ignored, and the youth still waiting for the light at the end of the dark tunnel into which this government has thrown them.
The 16-point Action Plan for Agriculture makes no mention of any initiatives or schemes to encourage crop diversification, noted the Chief Minister, adding that with buffer stocks of food grain already putting a strain on the states (including Punjab) and farmers, failure to diversify would further aggravate the problems for the country on the agriculture front.
Captain Amarinder also castigated the failure of the Central Government to provide the much-needed push to infrastructure. “And what is there in the budget to strengthen and upgrade the Irrigation and Power sector? How can India progress without infrastructural development?,” he asked.Even the defence sector, which one would have assumed to be a key priority area for any government in these dangerous times, had not got its due, Captain Amarinder lamented, terming the Rs 10,340 hike provided for modernization of the defence forces and purchase of new weapon systems as a pathetic joke. “This is worse than the increment even a clerk expects at the end of the year,” he quipped.The Chief Minister also flayed the Centre’s failure to address the concern of the states, including Punjab, on the delays in release of GST compensation. “Where will we get the money for the development of our state?” he demanded to know.The budget offers no cheer for the industry, with a meagre 27300 Cr allocated for promotion of industry and commerce, said Captain Amarinder. Some grandiose plans have been announced to make every district an export hub, but no roadmap has been drawn on the way forward, which shows how clueless the Government is when it comes to the nation’s economic development and progress, he added.Frankly, this lack of vision is manifest in almost every major announcement in the budget. For instance, the decision to hold Online Recruitment Test for all Non-Gazetted posts in banks does not take cognizance of the lack of digital literacy among the poor students, Captain Amarinder said.The Chief Minister lamented the step-fatherly treatment given to Punjab in the budget, which had failed to make any outlay for the celebration of the 550th anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the upcoming 400th celebration of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, or for the promotion of Sikh Culture and Heritage. Despite being severely water-stressed, Punjab remains excluded from the districts which the Centre intends to focus on for water conservation, he pointed out, adding that even the Special Tourism Projects announced in the budget were meant only for BJP-ruled states. Such an approach does not behoove the government of a federal nation, he added.Another area which is really a matter of serious concern for Punjab, and all other states, is the Centre’s decision to limit the GST Compensation Fund to collections under GST cess, said the Chief Minister. This, he warned, will further add to the problems of the states, which are already suffering immensely from the prolonged delays in getting their share of the GST revenue.Even the industry has little to cheer in this budget, with a meagre ? 27300 Cr allocated for promotion of industry and commerce, according to Captain Amarinder. Some grandiose plans have been announced to make every district an export hub, but no roadmap has been drawn on the way forward, which shows how clueless the Government is when it comes to the nation’s economic development and progress, he said.Frankly, this lack of vision is manifest in almost every major announcement in the budget. For instance, the decision to hold Online Recruitment Test for all Non-Gazetted posts in banks does not take cognizance of the lack of digital literacy among the poor students, the Chief Minister said.As for Health, the 10% increase over last year’s allocation can hardly be termed sufficient for the needs of a nation of billion plus, according to Captain Amarinder. Noting that there was no additional funding for the “TB Harega Desh Jeetega Programme” that aimed to eradicate TB by 2025, he said that mere words were not sufficient.Not only has the NDA government failed to deliver on any of its previous promises, but it has offered no hope in this budget to the nation, which continues to suffer the ill consequences of their anti-people policies and lopsided approach, said the Chief Minister.