New Delhi, 19 Feb 2014: The Interim Budget for 2014-15 presented by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on 17 Feb sounds more political and electoral than one addressing the basic issues and problems of the country, said Nusrat Ali, Secretary General, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
In a media statement here on Wednesday, the Jamaat leader expressed disappointment over the fact that the budget has lowered excise duty on cars and increased defence spending by 10% but has not given required focus on social sectors as education and health. The government has lowered excise on small cars/two-wheelers to 8%, on SUVs to 24%, on large cars to 20%. The defence expenditure has been enhanced by 10% to Rs.224,000 crore.
While welcoming the provision to help education loan borrowers, Jamaat leader expressed disappointment that the government has not allocated much on education.
“In a budget of Rs 11,67,131 crores, the amount allocated for education is too little. The government must spare at least 8% of the GDP for education,” demanded Nusrat Ali.
He also demanded allocation of at least 5% of GDP for health. The present interim budget has allocated Rs.33,725 crore for health and family welfare.
Jamaat leader welcomed a new initiative of the government for economic development of the Scheduled Castes.
“We welcome the announcement of the government to set up venture capital fund of Rs.200 crore to promote entrepreneurship among the Scheduled Castes and to provide concessional finance to them,” said Nusrat Ali and demanded similar provision for the Muslim community also.
“The economic condition of Muslims in the country is not better than the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes and this has been documented by the Sachar Committee. We, therefore, demand the government to take similar initiative to promote entrepreneurship among the Muslim community,” demanded the Jamaat leader.
While taking a dig at the budget data that lending to minority communities has soared to Rs.66,500 crore in 2013-14; minorities have 43,52,000 accounts in areas where there is concentration of minorities; and loans to minorities stood at Rs.211,451 crore at the end of December 2013, the Jamaat leader said the government never discloses which of the minority communities has got how much of these benefits.
“The government should present community-wise data. The government should tell the people as to how much of Rs 211,451 crore loans have been given to the Muslim community,” he demanded.
He also criticized the government for making the budget a political and electoral announcement.
“We are surprised that when it was expected that this budget would be just a vote on account for next four months the finance minister counted achievements of last 10 years and made promises for next 10 years in his budget, said Nusrat Ali.