New Delhi: The Union budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday received mixed response with government claiming it to be “visionary”, while Opposition termed it as “repetitive” and without any “central idea”. However, the corporate sector, trade and business bodies, by and large, hailed the budget saying it will help India achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the budget calling it “visionary” and “action packed”. In a statement, Modi said: “The main areas of employment are agriculture, infrastructure, textiles and technology. In order to generate employment, these four areas have been given great emphasis in this budget.” He said that with its efforts of doubling the income of the farmer, 16 action points have been created which will work to increase employment in rural areas.”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the budget gives an outline of new and confident India. It is a promising, proactive and progressive Budget which will make India healthy and wealthy in coming years. The budget has a clear focus on the welfare and development of all sections of our society and gives special attention to farmers and promoting ease of living in India. The measures announced today will certainly spur growth and create new job opportunities.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, however, said there was no strategic idea or anything concrete in the budget and it described the “hollow” approach of the government that was “all talk”. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, he described the budget as repetitive, saying it does not address the main issue of unemployment confronting the country’s youth. “The main issue is unemployment. I did not see any concrete, strategic idea that could help our youngsters get jobs. There were redundant things in the budget and I did not see any central idea,” he said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that step-motherly treatment has been meted out to Delhi again in the Union Budget. Kejriwal took to Twitter to express his disappointment over the budget and asked, “When Delhi doesn’t figure in the BJP’s priorities, why should people vote for it?” “Delhi had high expectations from the Budget, but step-motherly treatment has been meted out to it again,” he posted on the microblogging site in Hindi.
Commenting on the Union budget, president of trade body FICCI, Sangita Reddy, said: “Given the constraints that the Finance Minister was facing, this has been a comprehensive statement. The government has done a commendable job and the various measures announced will strengthen India, individuals and industry. By invoking the deviation clause in FRBM Act and relaxing the fiscal deficit to 3.8 % in the current year and targeting 3.5 % in the next year, the government has underscored its resolve to support the economy at a time when it needs a fiscal boost. The significant move of putting more money in the hands of people is visible by personal income tax reduction and rural and agricultural push.”
In its reaction the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the Budget is a comprehensive document which will not only boost the income but will also enhance the purchasing power of the citizens which in turn will bring much awaited cash liquidity in the market. CAIT national president B.C. Bhartia & secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that the announcements made in the budget if put to implementation in a strategic manner with a defined time frame will certainly lead India to a $5 trillion economy.
Hailing the budget, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) chairman Anil Kumar said it is promising and full of opportunities for the entire industry, including the steel. He said: “Government’s plan of massive investment on infrastructure projects will definitely work to boost steel consumption in the country and give momentum to the economy, which would also help generate job opportunities. Along with this, the steel industry will be directly benefited from the government›s renewed focus on investment in Indian Railways and plan to develop 100 new airports and piped water supply line.”
Satish Reddy, chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd and president, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, however, said the industry had high expectations from the budget as it was seen to be an opportunity to announce big, bold reforms given the state of the economy. “On that count, there is a degree of disappointment in some quarters as those expectations have not been met. However, I am happy to see that healthcare continues to be an integral part of the government’s key priorities. I would however have liked to see a significant financial incentive to boost exports and improve the competitiveness of the Pharma sector. I hope this will take shape with a new export incentive scheme,” he said.
Niranjan Hiranandani, president Naredco (National Real Estate Development Council) said, “The budget has set a positive direction tone but failed to announce much awaited economic stimulus to kickstart $5trillion economy. It subsequently lacked incremental allocation inadequacies with overemphasis on fiscal prudence and inflation target. With economy in doldrums and acute slump in consumption, efforts on demand creation incentives went missing.”
Anuj Puri, chairman of property consultant ANAROCK, said: “Clearly, this was a ‘make or break’ budget for the government with most sectors (including real estate) seeking concessions to boost consumption and investments. The government has lived up to the overall expectations in several ways. This budget restores some of the lost confidence in the India growth story—and more importantly, within India Inc.—by laying emphasis on wealth creators. That said, the budget misses on the ‘quick fixes’ the real estate sector needs urgently and focuses more on a long-term vision.”