Modi govt not populist even in election year: Finance Minister Piyush Goyal

File photo of Finance Minister Piyush Goyal | Photo: PTI
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has refuted charges that it is resorting to populist measures by going for supplementary demand for grants that will hit the exchequer by Rs 59.5 billion.

 

Replying to a debate, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said in the Lok Sabha the supplementary showed “this (demand for grants) is the lowest ever in the past 15 years. It is just 0.2 per cent of the total Budget, compared to 14 per cent in 2008-09 (the election year in the UPA’s tenure).” The House later passed the first batch of supplementary demand for FY19.

 

He said it was rather the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government which has widened the Centre’s fiscal deficit by a huge margin, compared to the Budget Estimates (BE) in election years.

 

“The UPA handed down the fiscal deficit at 4.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to us. We brought it down to an estimated 3.3 per cent in the current financial year,” Goyal said.

 

In the previous year, the deficit widened to 3.5 per cent compared to 3.3 per cent as projected in the BE, but it was due to 11 months of revenues that were yielded by indirect taxes following the roll-out of the goods and services tax (GST), he said.

 

Despite not getting Rs 500 billion from the GST for a month, the government managed to bridge the deficit to 3.5 per cent, Goyal said.

 

On the other hand, the UPA government had estimated the deficit at 2.5 per cent of GDP in FY09, an election year, but the deficit widened to 6 per cent. The next year, the deficit further rose to 6.5 per cent because many items were not provided for with the money in the previous year, he said.

 

Goyal rolled out statistics on primary and revenue deficits to claim that the Modi government was spending judiciously to give benefits to the needy. “Ours is an honest government which presents the Budgets in a transparent manner. We spend the money judiciously,” he said.

Without naming late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Goyal used his quote that only 10 paise reaches the needy when Rs 1 goes from the Centre to blunt the Opposition attack on corruption.

 

He said the government has transferred Rs 4 trillion to beneficiaries under the Direct Benefits Transfer in four years. “Had it been the times of those years (Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure), Rs 28 trillion would have to be given by the Centre for the same number of beneficiaries,” Goyal said.