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Hike in gold price would encourage smuggling, black marketing: Mitra

Kolkata: State Finance minister Amit Mitra reacted sharply to the Union Budget on Wednesday, saying that the increase in the price of gold would encourage more gold smuggling and black marketing in the country.

While speaking in the Assembly, Mitra said that the Centre increasing the price of gold is a 'dangerous' trend. He also said that he apprehends that it would have an adverse impact on the economy of the country.

"The Centre's decision to hike the price of gold is mysterious. Many people buy gold for different reasons. Some of them use the gold during their daughters' marriages. What message is the Centre sending across by hiking the price of gold? Are they trying to allow more smuggling, hawala and black marketing to take place in the country?" Mitra questioned.

During his speech, Mitra has given a detailed account how the Centre has reduced budgetary allocation in different schemes in the current financial budget. He said that allotment in MGNREGA has been reduced by 1.8 percent in the Union Budget. Even the Swachh Bharat Mission, which is so dear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has received a cut in the budgetary allotment by 25.5 percent.

He also said that since the introduction of GST, Centre has been getting the revenues from cess, leaving nothing for the state government. "This undermines the federal system," he added.

Tearing apart the Prime Minister's tall claim that the country is moving forward when it comes to employment generation, Mitra presented facts on how the unemployment rate in the country is on the rise.

"Unemployment rate of the country is at 6.1 percent, whereas the figure in Bengal stands at 4.6 percent, which is much lower than the national average. What is more shocking is that the Centre has slashed the budgetary allocation for umbrella schemes for the Scheduled Castes by 28.4 percent," Mitra added.

It may be mentioned that the Narendra Modi government often claims that it is carrying out development projects for

the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes category. However, many have raised questions on the implementation of the schemes.

The Finance minister also pointed out that the food security scheme and health did

not even find a mention in the budget and took a dig at the Centre by saying that farmers' income in the last three years has been pitifully low in the country.

He also said that fresh investments in the country have dipped by 19 percent, which the Centre has been trying to manage through foreign borrowing.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal Appropriation (No 2) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Assembly on Wednesday, through which the state government will maintain parity between income and expenditure. How the funds would be utilised against which head on the basis of priority, would also be determined following the promulgation of the Bill.

Mitra also mentioned in his address that the next edition of Bengal Global Business Summit will be held from December 15-16, 2020.

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