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Bouquets and brickbats for Pranab's budget

Monday February 28, 2011 08:27:57 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's budget Monday earned bouqets from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who congratulated him for "doing a good job to curb inflation and ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth", but the opposition slammed the budget as "timid and disappointing" that evaded the issues of the 'aam aadmi' (common man).

Hailing the union budget as an effort to curb inflation and inclusive growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Mukherjee has "done a good job".

"The finance minister deserves congratulations for maintaining a high growth rate despite the adverse international economic climate," Manmohan Singh, an economist himself, said in an interview to national broadcaster, Doordarshan.

"This is a budget that matches the challenges our economy faces -- sustained growth, inclusive growth, equitable growth and thus, a determined effort to curb inflation," Manmohan Singh said.

But Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari termed the budget as a "disappointment".

In a statement issued from Nagpur, Gadkari said: "The budget is directionless and has failed to provide any relief to the 'aam aadmi' (common man) reeling under severe inflation and sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities."

Gadkari said the budget was silent on "rampant corruption and menace of black money".

The BJP chief said the personal income tax relief is "cosmetic and has ignored the plight of working women".

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said the budget had failed to "address the serious problems affecting the people and the economy".

"The massive Rs.20,000 crore cut on major subsidies on fuel, fertiliser and food come as a rude shock," the CPI-M politburo said in a statement.

The CPI-M said that a big increase in fuel prices was likely in the near future.

"The finance minister's stubborn refusal to reduce excise and stubborn refusal to reduce excise and customs on petro products coupled with cut on subsidy indicates massive increase in prices of fuel soon," the statement said.

"This exposes the anti-people character" of the UPA II government, the CPI-M said.

The prime minister, while congratulating Mukherjee, said: "You cannot please all the people. The finance minister has done as good a job as possible."

He was responding to a query on why there was no increase in the income tax exemption limit for women.

"This is the budget which meets all the challenges of our economy and polity in the next fiscal year," Manmohan Singh said.

Asked why there was no amnesty scheme to unearth black money, Manmohan Singh said such schemes had not succeeded in the past.

"I don't think they have succeeded as permanent cure for black money. We need to have a systems' reform in holistic manner to deal with this menace," he said.

BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said the budget was "timid and unimaginative".

Sinha said Mukherjee was never known "for being a reformer in the economic field".

"That's why the budget is completely devoid of reforms. The nation was expecting a bold budget. But this is a timid budget," Sinha said.

"Overall, the budget reflects the abandoning of the aam aadmi agenda by the UPA-II government," the CPI-M said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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