Mumbai: The Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, here on Saturday, slammed the Union Budget announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, terming it as a ‘pipe-dream’ and ignoring the ground realities, and completely ignoring Mumbai, Maharashtra.
“The budget is far away from the economic realities and is only promising dreams to the youth, farmers and commoners,” said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a strong reaction.
He said the government hopes to achieve a 10 per cent growth rate, but it is barely five per cent in the current year and as per the Economic Survey it is forecast to be 6-6.5 percent for the next year.
“This is the lowest growth rate in recent years and not in expectations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of achieving a five trillion dollar economy,” he said.
Congress state President and Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the government has repeated its old promises – like doubling farmers income by 2022, which was a commitment made by Modi in 2014, but for doubling farm income, the growth rate should have been 11 per cent, against the two percent now.
NCP state spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said though Sitharaman sounds optimistic, the current realities of GDP figures belie the expectations of becoming a five trillion dolalr economy.
“Five new smart cities are welcome, but what about the 100 cities announced earlier? India ranks at 102 out of 117 in the Global Hunger Index, it has slipped 10 places to 68 in Global Competitiveness Index in 2019, Indian Rupee is constantly depreciating with a trade deficit of $118 billion. Farm crisis is at its worst and more than 11 million have lost jobs due to demonetization and hasty implementation of the GST, but these issues are not addressed,” said Tapase.
Thackeray attacked the disinvestment plans for LIC and IDBI and privatisation of Indian Railways saying these are indicative of the country’s precarious economic condition.
The CM said the expected huge outlay for basic infrastructure development has not been made, GST has resulted in crisis in MSMEs, spiralling inflation has hit the masses hard, demand has fallen and industries are in trouble, workers face problems, but these problems have not been tackled.
Thackeray said by 2030, India will be the ‘youngest nation’ but there are no long-term policies for employment opportunities for the youth workforce, and sufficient allocation has not been made for sectors like tourism which can be a good job creator.
Thorat, Thackeray and NCP Minister Jayant Patil said, “gross injustice has been meted out” to the country’s economic powerhouse Mumbai and Maharashtra with insufficient allocation for infrastructure projects like Metro Rail, improving the city’s lifeline of suburban trains, and nothing for the development of railway network in the state barring the known mention of the Bullet Train project.
Thackeray said that the state was discriminated even in the FM’s mention of developing five top historical locations as ‘Iconic Sites’ with no selection from Maharashtra, but Gujarat’s International Finance Centre has been prioritized over Mumbai which drives the country’s economic engine and contributes maximum to the national exchequer.
Thorat said the MVA’s opposition to the Bullet Train continues since it is not going to benefit Maharashtra in any manner, especially since Mumbai contributes the largest chunk of revenue to the Centre.
Expressing concern that unemployment is the highest in 45 years, banks not extending credits to MSMEs and farmers, Tapase asked the BJP to veer away from the vote-bank politics and concentrate on the economic prosperity of the common man if it was serious about a higher GDP.