Financial constraints stop him from allotting more funds for infrastructure
New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley peppered his speech with digs at the previous UPA regime and sprinkled it with interesting phrases taken out from Urdu poetry and religious scriptures as he presented his first full-fledged budget in Lok Sabha yesterday.
Dressed in a light blue shirt, a black trouser and a deep-blue Nehru jacket for the occasion, the 62-year-old spoke for nearly 100 minutes. He started his speech while standing, which is customary. However, after about 22 minutes, he felt uncomfortable and sat, with the permission of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Jaitley has not been keeping too well for the last few months.
As Jaitley occupied Gadkari’s seat to deliver his speech while seated, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen directing a staffer of Lok Sabha to shift his glass of water closer to the Finance Minister. He was also provided with some juice.
In his speech, Jaitley took digs at UPA’s rule. “Kuch toh phool khilaye humne, aur kuch phool khilane hai Mushkil yeh hai baag mein ab tak, kaante kai purane hai (We have blossomed some flowers and have to grow many more. But we are facing difficulty with some legacies),” he said in an apparent attack on the previous UPA government.
When asked what he wanted in this Union Budget but could not accomplish, he said there was less money that he could allocate for the social sector as well as for infrastructure. “I wanted to allocate an additional Rs 1 lakh crore for infrastructure but for financial constraints,” he said after the budget, adding that he expected a 15 per cent revenue growth this year, that will help ease the financial position of government.
Reinstating the government’s commitment on implementing the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ policy, Jaitley said the issue is pending as the method of calculating pension is stuck between the Armed Services and the Defence Ministry.
“I have already in the last Budget said that we are going to implement ‘One Rank, One Pension’. This need not be stated on every occasion. We are completely committed to it,” Jaitley said, when asked about the delay in launching the scheme.
Explaining the reasons behind the delay, the Minister said: “The methodology of calculating the One Rank, One Pension is an issue pending between the Services and the Defence Ministry.” As and when that idea is formulated, not only it should be implemented, it will be implemented, he added.
“You may only notice that I have today, despite the squeeze, increased the allocation for Defence by almost Rs 25,000 crore,” Jaitley said.
Last month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that ‘One rank, One pension’ scheme will be rolled out soon. The scheme, which seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to defence personnel who retire at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen in the country.
Who said what
Union budget 2015 is a budget with a clear vision. It is a budget that is progressive, positive, practical, pragmatic and prudent
– Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
I had hoped that he would use this lucky phase to give a real big boost to stabilise the economy, strengthen the macroeconomic framework... with all the nitpicking, the net tax revenue will increase by only Rs 15,000 crore. What is Rs 15,000 crore in a budget which runs into Rs 15-16 lakh crore ... My worry about the budget is that it has good intentions but it does not have an adequate roadmap and framework to implement the initiatives ...
— Manmohan Singh, Former Prime Minister
If one asks who is pleased by the Budget, I suspect it will be the corporates and the income-tax payers (Rs 3.5 crore). Where does that leave the vast majority of the people, especially the poor, who look up to the government for succour and relief? While the income-tax payers may have been got some relief, all others have been burdened with increases in Excise duty and Service Tax
—P Chidambaram, Former Finance Minister
Budget again fine words but implementation will be key. Corporate-friendly but little for aam aadmi & poor completely forgotten
–Shashi Tharoor, MP for Thiruvananthapuram