No real growth in economy, welfare ignored, subsidies reduced: Former India finance minister

He also said millions of jobs were lost, while per capita income and expenditure declined over the past two years.


P. Chidambaram

February 9, 2022

NEW DELHI – Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today initiated the Rajya Sabha discussion on the Union Budget 2022-23 and said the Government had ignored the poor, while the wealth of the billionaires was increasing.

India was growing only to stay at the same place where it was in 2019-20 when the GDP was Rs 145 lakh crores. It came to Rs 135 lakh crore in 2020-21. India can be considered as growing only when it goes back to Rs 145 lakh crore, but that stage has not come yet, he said.

“The Government claims it is running fast, but we are running fast to stay in the same place. This is not a treadmill,” Chidambaram said.

Next year 2022-23, he said, the Budget said the nominal growth rate will be 11.1 per cent while the Chief Economic Advisor said the real growth rate will be eight per cent. The Finance Minister must clarify the correct figure.

In the last two years, he said, millions of jobs were lost, 60 lakh MSMEs closed, 84 per cent households suffered loss of income, while per capita income and expenditure declined, he said.

Six crore have been pushed into poverty and India had gone down in the world hunger index, he said. Top 10 per cent population today garners 57 per cent of national income and holds 77 per cent of wealth. The number of billionaires has increased from 102 to 142, and their wealth has grown from Rs 23 lakh crore to Rs 53 lakh crore in the last two years.

However subsidies have gone down; for petroleum reduced for the next two years from Rs 6517 crores to Rs 5813 crores, fertilisers Rs 1.40 lakh crore to Rs 1.05 lakh crore, food reduced from Rs 2.86 lakh crore to Rs 2.06 lakh crore, and agriculture from 4.3 per cent of the GDP to 3.84 per cent of the GDP, the former Finance Minister said.

He said crop insurance was down from Rs 15,989 crore to Rs 15,500 crore, and MGNREGA reduced from Rs 98,000 crores to Rs 73,000 crores.

“If wealth is not shared what is the point in creating it. The government has forgotten the poor,” he said.

The Prime Minister spoke about jobs and employment. As on 31 March, 2021 there were over 8.72 lakh vacancies in the Central government and the Government recruited 264 persons against the vacancies, he said.

The Government promised two crore jobs a year. They should report how many jobs created. According to CMIE, urban unemployment rate is 7.9 per cent and rural unemployment is 6.54 per cent, Chidambaram said.

Through GatiShakti, 60 lakh jobs will be created in five years, the Budget said. About 47.50 lakh are adding to the work force every year. What will the rest do, sell pakoras, he asked.

Last year, the Finance Minister had projected 2021-22 fiscal deficit at 6.8 per cent. It is 6.9 per cent.

On capital expenditure, in 2021-22, the estimates projected Rs 5.54 lakh crore, laying stress on Government capital expenditure. The revised estimate for the year is a little over Rs 6 lakh crore but that includes one-time debt payment of Rs 51000 crore for Air India.

That is not capital expenditure, that is repaying the bank. If you deduct that amount, it would come to Rs 5.52 lakh crore, which is less than the Budget estimate, Chidambaram said.

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