Millennium Post

Budget of desperation By Centre past expiry date: Mamata

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday described the interim Budget for 2019-20 as a "Budget of desperation" and also added in the same breath that the slew of new announcements have no meaning as the tenure of the current government in the Centre will end in a month.

"Who will implement this (interim Budget)? Will the new government that will come implement this Budget? Before the election, a vote on account is placed," Banerjee told reporters outside the Assembly.

Slamming the Centre, she said: "The Centre has no moral authority to place a full Budget when its tenure will be over in a month. The new schemes that are announced in the Budget are absolutely valueless. The Centre has become so desperate politically that they are trying to woo people with false promises ahead of the Lok Sabha elections."

Banerjee further added with an analogy: "After expiry, if you give medicine, is there any value? Likewise, what is the value of this Budget?"

Giving a point-by-point rebuttal, she further questioned: "Why have they not done this Budget in the previous four-and-a-half-years? They have not announced a single scheme for the farmers during this period." Referring to the 'Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi' announced by the acting Union Finance minister Piyush Goyal claiming that the Centre would provide financial support of Rs 6,000 per year to the farmers' families, the Chief Minister pointed out it was a "photocopy" of the scheme introduced by the state government in Bengal.

"You will be surprised to see we have already started a similar scheme for the farmers what they have announced today. Disbursing cheques to the farmers have already begun under the 'Krishak Bandhu' scheme that includes compensation of Rs 2 lakh in case of death of a farmer and additional financial assistance of Rs 5,000 per acre," Banerjee said.

"I would have been happy had it been done earlier. As a Railway minister, I placed so many Budgets. I am not an economist but I have some practical idea and experience about how the Budget is done. Nobody knows about the current economic situation of the country. But it is obvious that economic emergency has been going on in India. After demonetisation, GST and Reserve Bank disaster, how will the government arrange funds for these projects," the Chief Minister wondered.

"The Centre claims that they are giving Rs 5 lakh under the 'Ayushman Bharat' scheme. This is absolutely wrong. They have copied the Bengal government's 'Swasthya Sathi' scheme. They are not giving extra money for the MGNREGA programme. Poor people get employment under 100 days work and its allotment has been reduced. Cutting down on MGNREGA allotment is not acceptable at all."

Financial allotment in the animal development sector has been decreased as well. The same thing happened in case of 'Swachh Bharat' mission as it (Centre) has reduced 25 percent of the financial allocation, Banerjee said.

"In the last one year, around 2 crore jobs have been lost. Now, fund has been drastically reduced by 30.4 percent in the skill development. Funds for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Budget have been reduced by 29.09 percent. Funds allocation for other vulnerable groups has been cut down by 20.8 percent. This is nothing but a show-off Budget," Banerjee maintained.

"We have also decided not to keep any ties with the Centre when it comes to crop insurance scheme. We have decided in the Cabinet meeting that we will bear the entire expenses. Earlier, we used to pay 80 percent of the total scheme. Now, we will spend the rest from our exchequer only," the Chief Minister added.

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