The Budget has not focused on job creation. Industry, especially MSMEs, create jobs. Industrial GVA growth declined from 9.8% in 2015-16 to 6.8% in 2016-17 to 2.7% in 2017-18. In the same period, manufacturing GVA has declined from 12.7% to 7.9% to 3.1%. The FM failed the fiscal consolidation test. All deficits have crossed the budget estimates. Against a BE fiscal deficit target for 2017-18 of 3.2, the final number will be 3.5. Even that is questionable. Similarly, for 2018-19, against a target of 3.0, FM has pegged it at 3.2. Both these slippages will have serious consequences and raise grave doubts about India’s commitment to fiscal consolidation. I did not hear any measures to boost exports. Because the government has run out of ideas to boost exports, the FM has imposed additional customs duties to restrict imports.
There is a promise to increase MSP 1.5 times, but there are no details. Besides, `2000 crore for e-markets and `500 crore for Operation Green amount to a pittance. There is nothing to indicate that farmers’ real income will rise. The promise of `5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary healthcare is a big jumla. The target group is 10 crore families. There is, as yet, no scheme. Assuming that each family will avail of `50,000 (one-tenth of `5 lakh), the amount required per year will be `5 lakh crore. If the insurance companies will foot the bill, the premium at `5000-15,000 per family will require an outgo of `50,000 -1,50,000 crore per year.
There is no tax relief to the average tax-payer. For individuals, standard deduction is back, but Long Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCG) is also back. For the middle class earner and saver, one cancels the other. The most disappointing part of the budget is the cut in the outlays on major schemes for 2018-19. Some important schemes that will get constant or reduced outlays include MGNREGA, PMAY, National Drinking Water Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, National Health Mission, Midday Meals Scheme, Interest Subsidy for Short Term Farm Credit, North-eastern Investment Promotion, Price Stabilisation Fund and Gram Jyoti Yojana.
Congress leader and former Finance Minister
The Budget is not a pro poor budget. It has actually favoured the rich, giving them more concessions. The Budget indicates that overall government expenditure has contracted. This contraction in the economy will affect the people of our country adversely. There is also no increase in direct taxes. That means that the corporates and the rich have been spared. It also implies that indirect taxes will continue to rise which means that the common people will be burdened further.
The much publicised health scheme is nothing new. It is actually a combination of a few existing schemes. More importantly, the government is unclear on how they plan to raise the funds needed for this scheme. Regarding agriculture, the promised 1.5% MSP has been only declared for the kharif season, keeping the upcoming general elections in mind. The government had promised the same four years back and had failed to deliver it.
General Secretary, CPI(M)
The Budget is a super-flop show and a big bluff show. There is no mechanism to implement announcements. It is clear that all sections are displeased, disappointed and angry. People have lost their trust in this government. People have lost their faith. After the Budget, the government’s credibility is now zero.
Bengal gives free treatment and medicines. Our schemes on health, education and the emancipation of girls have already been implemented. Bengal has already doubled farmer’s income in five years. Now the union government is again talking about doubling farmer income. Will agriculture grow at 12% per annum? They are again bluffing.
Leader of All India Trinamool Congress
Parliamentary Party in Rajya Sabha