New Delhi: The Vice-President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), Muhammad Salim Engineer issued a statement to the media regarding the Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister yesterday. The JIH Vice-President said: “The Union budget presented by the Finance Minister, in Parliament yesterday should be appreciated for sticking to the path of fiscal prudence. The push for infrastructure development and greater connectivity is also laudable. However, we feel that the Union budget was quite disappointing for the common man. The price of diesel and petrol has been raised by imposing special additional excise duty and a road and infrastructure cess. This will have a cascading effect on the overall inflation, transport costs and food prices. Besides there was no new relief granted on the personal income tax front. India is facing a declining GDP since the last many quarters and there is an urgent need to stimulate the economy by reviving growth. Increase in domestic consumption and aggregate demand can only happen when lower- and middle-class households have disposable income which has been severely hit by fuel hike and absence of tax relief. So, we urge the government to re-look at its approach as without growth the huge challenge of tackling unemployment (which is at 45-year record high) will even become more daunting resulting in social and labor unrest”.
Salim Engineer continued: “Social sector spending on education and health has received a slight boost but is still far behind the minimum allocation that we expect, namely 6% of GDP for education and 3% of GDP for the health sector respectively. We demand greater allocation for both education and healthcare. We are also disappointed that the budget for pre-matric and post-matric scholarships for minorities has been reduced. The government had promised that the funds obtained by withdrawing the Haj subsidy would be used for the education of minorities. This has not happened which turns the PM’s call for “sabka vikas, sabka vishwas” into an empty slogan”.
The JIH Vice President averred: “JIH is also concerned about the increase in FDI in news media and entertainment. This will expose the molding of domestic public opinion to direct foreign influence and pose a huge challenge for preserving our culture and values, especially amongst the younger generation. Jamaat feels that the government plan to raise part of its borrowing from overseas market in foreign currency through sovereign bonds is not a good idea and may result in greater exposure to external shocks and a possible reduction in our control over financial and monetary policy. Government is advised to learn a lesson from how the economies of Brazil, Argentina and Mexico were compromised by treading this path”.