After the Congress unveiled its big-bang poll promise of guaranteed minimum income of Rs 6,000 per month to 20 per cent poorest of the poor families, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused Congress of “bluffing” the people.
The FM said the devil of the scheme lay in its details. He said the United Progressive Alliance-1 government promised a farm loan waiver of Rs 70,000 crore in 2008, but waived loans worth only Rs 52,000 crore, and the Comptroller and Auditor General said it helped businesspersons in Delhi. In comparision, the Modi government has committed to Rs 75,000 crore per annum for farmers. He said the Congress party’s promise of farm loan waiver in Punjab has proved to be “eyewash”.
“If the Congress Party’s announcement is tested on simple arithmetic, Rs 72,000 for 50 million families works out to be Rs 3.6 trillion, which is less than two-third of what is being given (by the current government) — A bluff announcement,” Jaitley said.
In a Facebook post titled ‘Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi already giving to poor much more than what the Congress promises?’, Jaitley said no political party has betrayed India for more than seven decades other than the Congress.
“It gave to the people of India many slogans and very little resources to implement them,” he said.
Accusing the Opposition of sabotaging the pro-poor initiatives of the NDA government, Jaitley said “if the Congress party and its friends have so much concern for the poor in India, why is it that its states are going slow in certifying the list of small and marginal farmers who are entitled to receiving the instalment of PM KISAN? Why are some of the States such as West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi, amongst others, not implementing the Ayushman Bharat? What is the fault of their poor farmers that they want to make them pay?” He said the Narendra Modi government has annually provided Rs 5.34 trillion to the
poor by way of various schemes, subsidy transfers, Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan initiative.
“The simple arithmetic is if multiple bank transfers to the 50 million poor families, the existing payment to which is mostly being done. The above averages Rs 1,06,800 annually as against Rs 72,000 which is the Congress now seeks to promise through the DBT mechanism,” Jaitley said.
The FM said the Modi government has allocated Rs 1.84 trillion under the right to food Act this year, and there are other subsidies, including Rs 75,000 crore in PM Kisan Nidhi, Rs 20,000 crore in Ayushman Bharat. He said all of this comes to a yearly allocation of Rs 5.34 trillion, and to Rs 7 trillion if smaller subsidies on Ujjwala, electricity and housing scheme are added.
The Economic Advisory Council to the PM criticised the announcement in a series of tweets. It later deleted the posts when a Twitter user pointed out that they were in violation of the model code of conduct. “INC’s income guarantee scheme (as of 25/03/2019) would either upset this balance or severely cut critical government spending. Both options dangerous,” it said. The proposed income guarantee scheme fails the economics test, fiscal discipline test and execution test, it added.
Meanwhile, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said Rahul Gandhi’s promise of providing Rs 72,000 annually to five crore families will create strong incentives against work and bust fiscal discipline. In a post on Twitter, Kumar said: “True to its past record of promising the moon to win elections, the Congress president has announced a scheme that will burst fiscal discipline, create strong incentives against work and which will never be implemented.”
In another tweet, Kumar said the cost of the minimum income guarantee scheme at 2 per cent of the GDP and 13 per cent of the Budget will “ensure” that real needs of people remain unsatisfied.