Union minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the scheme for Rs 6,000 cash transfer to farmers -- which has been criticised through the day by the opposition -- was just an "initial measure" meant as a "mark of respect" to farmers. Efforts are on to find a "sustainable solution" to the problems the farm sector is facing, he said.
The interim budget presented in the morning has been shredded by various leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties including the Trinamool Congress. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said the big ticket announcement was an "insult" to the country's farmers and accused the government of using the budget as an election pitch.
"We are looking at sustainable measures to help farmers. This Rs 6,000 is just a mark of respect," Mr Goyal told NDTV.
In the evening, Union Minister Arun Jaitley had ripped into the opposition, accusing them of shedding "crocodile tears" over farmers. Pointing out that the agriculture sector was not just the responsibility of the Centre, he said the opposition-ruled state governments could "top up" the central scheme.
Over the last months, measures to help angry farmers have been one of the big concerns of the government. It got amped up after the BJP's electoral setback in the heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The opposition Congress has taken up the issue, highlighting it along with the lack of jobs with equal zeal.
Since Friday, the job situation has become a raging controversy following a news report that said unemployment is at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18.
The report by the Business Standard newspaper had quoted a survey by the National Sample Survey Office. Two non-government members of the National Statistical Commission, which vets the report, had quit on Tuesday, accusing the centre of withholding its release.
"When they said unemployment was at 2 per cent, did you believe them? It is a question of completely changing the way unemployment is being measured," Mr Goyal said.
The government has said the figures from National Sample Survey are not final and hence were not released. Mr Goyal said the data "could not factor in the sudden formalisation of the economy after demonetization... The nature of jobs is changing".
The government has argued that the high growth figures indicate that there are jobs.
Union minister Arun Jaitley questioned how the economy could grow at an average of 7.5 per cent in the last five years without any job creation. "The last five years have seen an average of about 7.5 per cent real GDP growth... Is it possible to conceive that such high nominal growth despite controlled inflation will not lead to any job creation," Mr Jaitley said.
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