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BJP terms Union budget as directionless


March 16, 2012 - New Delhi

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday termed the the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as one having no directions.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the budget has failed to live up to public expectations.

"There is no face or direction in this entire budget. No attention has been paid to development. This is only a survival budget to remain in politics. This is a budget made in forceful circumstances. This budget will lead to inflation," said Prasad.

"The duties and customs have been increased. The net of the service tax has been widened. The fiscal deficit has been talked of coming from 5.9 percent to 5.1 percent. But it is in a worrisome state. The biggest issue is that the capital of India is going out," he added.

Criticising the manner of controlling the fiscal deficit, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said the budget has burdened the masses.

"In the name of controlling fiscal deficit in the budget, more economic burden has been levied on the people. This is not the way to reduce the fiscal deficit. Through the means of direct taxes, people who have the means should bear the brunt and give relief to the people," said Yechury.

Janata Dal (United), General Secretary, Delhi state, Prabhat Rajan said the Union Budget had failed to provide any relief to the people.

"This budget has given relief to no one, people are disappointed with this budget they have cheated the people," said Rajan.

Meanwhile, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ally, Trinamool Congress (TMC) called the budget tolerable despite certain shortcomings.

"Trinamool Congress feels that the budget is tolerable. This is our primary reaction but we still believe that the interests of the farmers are to be kept protected by decontrolling the fertilizers, which the government has made. That decision can be reconsidered," said Sudip Bandopadhyay, TMC leader.

"The question of kerosene oil price, that can be considered for reduction of some price, the employees' provident fund interest, which in economic survey yesterday has been reflected, the interest has come down by one percent. That is also to be reconsidered," he added.

However, Pranab Mukherjee's son and West Bengal legislator Abhijeet Mukherjee praised the budget, noting that it had assured government's interests in public sector undertakings.

"The government has retained the public sector of this country, and the 51 percent will be retained by the government. And this can be disinvested. So the public sector is thriving as the backbone of the Indian industry and economy. And basically I am a public sector man so naturally I will feel good and proud of this budget," said Abhijeet Mukherjee.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee set a fiscal deficit target of 5.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the fiscal year that begins in April, down from an expected 5.9 percent in the current year.

This year's figure, however, ended up far above the 4.6 percent it had originally targeted in its budget a year ago.

Mukherjee said he expected the Indian economy to grow by 7.6 percent in the next fiscal year, up from an expected 6.9 percent in the current year but below the 8.4 percent growth of the previous fiscal year.

Mukherjee set a target of selling 300 billion rupees worth of stakes in state companies in the next fiscal year, roughly in line with forecasts. India has raised just 139 billion rupees in the current fiscal year from stake sales, far below its budget target of 400 billion rupees.

With General Elections set for 2014, the budget a year from now is expected to be loaded with populist spending measures. Friday's budget was thus viewed as a last opportunity for Singh's government to roll back a yawning fiscal gap.

ANI

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