New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the government per se is not against subsidies, but maintained that these are meant for the needy and not the wealthy, remarks that come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of rationalising and targeting of such benefits. He also indicated that his upcoming Budget will not resort to “sheer populism” for good ratings, but will focus on structural reforms. He hoped that the Congress will “see reason” and help pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Pic/PTI
“The Prime Minister had a valid point and the valid point is at the end of the day, the government per se is not against the concept of subsidies,” he said while speaking at an event in New Delhi. With 25 per cent of the people below poverty line, a very large section of population is entitled to cheap food while the farm sector stress too has to be supported. “If you look at the whole structure of the Indian economy, its agriculture sector, particularly in the last two years due to the poor monsoon, has been stressed. Therefore, you need to put funds in that particular sector. Therefore, there would be targetted subsidy,” he said. Jaitley said the prime minister had on Friday stated that subsidies are being rationalised and not abolished. “I think that is the correct statement. They must be targetted to people who are entitled to it, not for the wealthier people,” he made it clear.