"One Of The Most Opaque": P Chidambaram On Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget Speech

Budget 2019: P Chidambaram also said even the government's plans for the agriculture sector had not been explored in Nirmala Sitharaman's speech.

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P Chidambaram addressed a press conference on Budget 2019 this evening.


New Delhi: 

The budget speech by Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman is one of the "most opaque ever" former finance minister P Chidambaram said, pointing out that it leaves out all crucial information regarding the government's expenditure, revenue, fiscal deficit, and even the allocation for the defence sector.

"For large number of people who are listening to the speech, they do not get this budget document. Officials get it, MPs get it, think tanks get it, i suppose you can buy a set of documents. But the lakhs and lakhs of people who are listening to the speech, you don't tell them what the government's total expenditure is, what the total revenue is, what the fiscal deficit is. What are you afraid of? Why are you keeping people in the dark?" he said.

Not been given an idea about the allocation for defence is "unfair to the people of India" he said, taking a dig at the BJP, which had accused the Congress time and again of neglecting the armed forces and the country's security.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, especially after the air strikes at Pakistan's Balakot by the Indian Air Force, the BJP had placed nationalism and national security at the heart of its campaign.

Mr Chidambaram also said even the government's plans for the agriculture sector had not been explored in Ms Sitharaman's speech. This is especially crucial in view of the crisis the country's farmers have been facing for the last few years.

There have been hopes that the government would come up with a detailed blueprint for the revival of the farm sector. Asked about the matter, Mr Chidambaram said: "In the speech given by the finance minister, there was no mention of the agriculture system. How can I say something if she has not mentioned anything?"

The receding income in the farm sector has been reflected in the report of the Economic Survey, which was tabled in parliament on Thursday.

The agriculture graph shows the agricultural income has slid to 2.9 per cent from the earlier 5 per cent. There should have been a paragraph in the minister's speech, Mr Chidambaram said.



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