The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday rejected Congress’ and Left parties’ criticism that the Narendra Modi-led government’s debut general Budget was targeted at solely addressing the concerns of the markets. The party claimed the Budget was a comprehensive document of hope, which has charted the road map for a new and resurgent India.
Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad detailed the budgetary provisions and allocations for the agricultural sector, for rural and urban renewal and for protecting religious heritage. “BJP believes genuine equity can only come through a road map of growth,” Prasad said. He was addressing the media at the BJP national headquarters here.
On retrospective tax legislation, Prasad said the finance minister had already elaborated in his Budget speech the government’s view on the issue. Prasad, who is also the telecom minister, said: “The Narendra Modi government is always keen on having a stable taxation regime and a clear fiscal regime based on objective and non-discriminatory governmental conduct.”
Prasad advised mediapersons to wait for his speech on the issue that he would be making in Parliament in his capacity as India’s telecom minister.
The minister said the Budget has attempted to give a boost to the country’s electronic goods manufacturing sector. He said India imported $100 billion worth of such goods each year, which according to an estimate would rise to $400 billion by 2020, surpassing the country’s oil import bill. Prasad said it was a matter of concern that India imported electronic items such as mobile phones and set-top boxes, which are based elementary technology.
Prasad said the Budget tried to address the problems, including cess and duties, the sector faces. He pointed out to the anomaly where domestic manufacturers have to pay four per cent education cess which importers of these goods don’t. “We estimate that as many as 25 million people can be provided jobs in this sector,” he said.
The minister said the Union Budget has attempted some labour reforms, as has the Rajasthan government. He said it wasn’t a prerequisite that the Budget should talk about all such reforms, adding labour was a state subject.
On questions about stock market’s reaction to the Budget, Prasad said he didn’t think markets were the only benchmark to rate the efficacy of any budget. He stressed the Budget was concerned about digital India as also rural India.
Terming it a ‘common man’s Budget’, BJP claimed it was the most comprehensive budget in recent times and has touched almost every issue from “Mars to minorities”, “capital market to rural market”, etc.
Prasad accused the Congress of criticising the Budget without doing any homework.