The national budget for 2008-09 presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday has evoked mixed responses in Orissa. "It is a good budget for senior citizens, students, farmers and taxpayers," said Arabinda Mohanty, who runs a grocery shop at Sailashree Vihar area in Bhubaneswar.
"It is a populist budget basically meant to motivate the general electorate as some part of the country will go for election soon," Raghunath Sahu, an activist of the Biju Janata Dal, said.
"Loan waiver to farmers is not justified," Kishor C Samal, professor of economics at Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS), told IANS. "This will encourage a bad mindset among farmers. Those who want to pay back loans will not pay," he said.
Describing how it would affect poor farmers, Samal said: "Majority of those take loan are big farmers and they will take benefit of it. "Poor farmers never get loan so they cannot benefit."
The waiver will also affect public sector banks, which cannot compete with private sector banks, he said. "The finance minister should have provided job guarantees for 365 days to people covered under National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (NREGS)."
However, Samal pointed out that the budget had a human face. It has given some concessions to senior citizens, women, Dalits, Scheduled Castes and other marginalized sectors. But there is no incentive for investment in agriculture or in industries, he said.
"It is good for common public but there is nothing for industries," said Bhubaneswar-based chartered accountant NC Meher. "It is a populist budget."
"The budget is anti-people," said national vice-president of Bharatiya Janata Party and sitting MP Jual Oram. "The budget has taken care of all sections of people. It is a historic budget," state Congress party president Jayadev Jena said.