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Oppn slams govt over sliding growth, rising unemployment

Oppn slams govt over sliding growth, rising unemployment

New Delhi: The Opposition on Thursday slammed the government for its failure to check sliding economy growth, rising unemployment and firming inflation.

Participating in a discussion on the Union Budget 2020-21 in Lok Sabha, members of the Opposition parties said that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her long speech made no mention of unemployment even once.

Initiating the debate, Congress MP Manish Tewari said the country's economy was affected with coronavirus but the Centre was giving medication for common cold.

His remarks were countered by former Union minister Jayant Sinha who said that the Opposition was looking behind whereas the government was looking ahead at a 10-trillion dollar economy.

"India's economy is in very critical stage...The economy has been affected with coronavirus while the government was giving the medication for common cold," Tewari said.

Abhishek Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said 130 crore people listened to the longest-ever Budget speech patiently only to get nothing at the end.

"Clearly, the government went ahead with the moto that if you cannot convince people, confuse them," he said, adding the 161-minute-long speech has been successful in achieving that objective.

The budget comes in the backdrop of GDP growth touching 11-year low, unemployment rate at 45-year high, investment rate at 17-year low, and lowest house-hold savings in eight years, he said.

Opposing the government's disinvestment drive, Banerjee said the government has embarked on 'Beecho India' drive considering the strike rate at which PSUs are being privatised.

Citing example of proposed LIC listing, he said that one after another family jewel are being put on the block.

The government has put BPCL, Air India, Indian Railways and IDBI Bank on sale, he said, adding his party will oppose any move to dilute the government stake in LIC.

In future, he said, the government will sell the Food Corporation of India (FCI) as the government has cut down food subsidy by whopping Rs 70,000 crore in the budget.

The government is not ready to accept that there is economic slowdown and deceleration even though one would see economic misery everywhere on the ground, he said, adding the government is not ready to take corrective measures. He emphasised that the 13,200-word budget has not mentioned unemployment once and when the youth of this country want job, the government is providing internship.

"When you have GDP growth rate of less than 5 per cent, the government talks of USD 5 trillion economy," he said, adding that by the time economy reaches USD 5 trillion, it would be 2040.

"The time has come for austerity measure. Instead of selling government family jewels like LIC, Air India, BPCL, why this government is not doing anything for Raj Bhawan. I wonder. What are your thoughts on Raj Bhawans. Raj Bhawans are being used as BJP's extended houses and post-retirement mansions of BJP leaders," he said.

Quoting newspaper reports, he said, the government of India is buying aircraft worth USD 200 million for VVIP movement.

"I wonder this is why the Air India is being privatised," he said. "After listening to the speech of the Finance Minister anxiously for two hours and forty minutes I am left...with the thought -- is this speech of Government of India or Government of India Pvt Ltd," he added.

Many MPs raised question about pending GST dues to various states. Speaking on the issue, Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena said the government should pay due to them in right earnest.

Sawant said the government should not go for blind privatisation, saying if PSUs like LIC are privatised who will protect the interests of commoners.

DMK leader K Kanimozhi accused the Modi government of not only painting the contemporary India "saffron" but going back in history to paint the past in the Hindutva colour as well.

Speaking during a discussion on the Union budget, she hit out at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for "going out of way to rename Indus Valley civilisation as Saraswati Sindhu civilisation" and asked the government to leave such work to scholars and historians.

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