Opposition parties rejected the Union Budget 2013-14 on Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over lack of "ambition" and the Left over checks on expenditure to reduce fiscal deficit despite forgoing revenue from corporates.
The BJP accused the government of resorting to "jugglery" with nothing to boost manufacturing or agriculture, increase GDP growth rate, bring down inflation or strengthen the rupee. "The finance minister found himself in a helpless situation with very little elbow space," said senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley. "He has therefore presented a budget that only makes certain cosmetic changes in the policy and taxation structure. Though verbose in content, the budget is low in ambition."
Adding to the criticism, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said not once was the "aam admi" mentioned. "He announced a cosmetic bank for women, nothing to boost employment for the youth and nothing new for the poor, except cash transfer of subsidies that they already had."
"The budget lacks imagination to think beyond neoliberal prescriptions and relied exclusively on reducing fiscal deficits by curbing expenditures…," the CPM politburo said. "The finance minister expressed concern about the fiscal deficit which stands at a revised estimate of Rs. 5,20,925 crore. But this is lower than the revenue forgone - Rs. 5,73,630 crore. This means fiscal deficit is primarily caused by sops given to the rich. The burden of meeting this deficit is passed on to the poor by means of cutting expenditures."
"This budget amounts to putting the economy on ventilator, even as the FM seems incapable of diagnosing the disease and treating it," said K N Balagopal, CPM member of Rajya Sabha.
A BJP release signed by Swaraj and Jaitley hinted that the allocations in budget estimates for next year weren't impressive when compared to the current year's estimates.
"On the Health Mission, the current year's budget provides Rs. 18,515 crore; the revised estimate is Rs. 15,411 crore. The next year's estimate (Rs 21,239 crore) has marginally increased the amount by about Rs. 3,000 crore."
It added: "MGNREGA originally provided Rs. 40,000 crore. In the past two years this amount has been reduced to Rs. 33,000 crore. The current year's actual estimates are at Rs. 29,677 crore. Next year's actual expenditure may be even less. The FM has optically brought down the proposed target back to Rs. 33,000 crore knowing it will not be utilised."