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Jaswant doubts CMP's economic promises
June 02, 2004 17:43 IST
Last Updated: June 02, 2004 18:37 IST
In a frontal attack on the Common Minimum Programme of the new Congress-led coalition government, the National Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday that it made "fantastic promises" without specifying how they are going to be funded.
"The CMP was made hurriedly after the elections. It makes lot of promises (for economic development). But there is no clarity on where the funds will come from," former finance minister and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Jaswant Singh, told a press conference in New Delhi.
While conveying his best wishes to his successor P Chidambaram, Singh questioned how the new government sought to generate additional revenues to carry out higher public investments while reining in fiscal deficit.
Asked whether the United Progressive Alliance government would be able to maintain the higher 8.0 per cent growth momentum, Singh said, "I will not speculate on whether or not economic growth will be one per cent lower than what we had projected. I hope they maintain the record we set, if not better it."
Claiming that the economy fared well during the NDA rule, he said, "Fiscal deficit was at 4.6 per cent of GDP, less than the revised estimate. Revenue deficit was lower at 3.5 per cent with revenue collection for the first time exceeding the Budget target."
Higher spending promised by CMP should be accompanied by higher revenue generation, he added.
"For example, the promise of 100 days of employment to all is an admirable suggestion. But it would be useful if it is clarified where the money will come from," Singh said.
In a document titled "A Prescription for Regression", the NDA pointed out that the promise on the employment front was "doomed to fail for the simple reason that the panchayats and municipal bodies, which alone can take up public works, are starved of resources."
Moreover, it said, "The financial health of the state governments is precarious. Many of them use development funds to pay staff salaries."
Questioning the new government's stand on divestment, Singh said, "Our experience says, you can't find buyers for PSUs, which do not earn money."
He also dismissed the notion that the divestment ministry was being disbanded saying, "What I understand, it is going back to where it originally belonged to, that is the finance ministry."
Singh declined to comment on the proposed cess on all central taxes to fund education but said, "I will like to see it in concrete terms."
He also refrained from commenting on the proposed special schemes to tap black money saying, "The new finance minister has every right to come up with such schemes."
On infrastructure development, the NDA document said the new government was stalling the river-linking project and made no mention of the National Highway Development Project and the rural roads schemes initiated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The CMP also has no mention of airport, civil aviation and biotechnology, while makes casual treatment of the two fast growing sectors -- telecom and IT, the NDA said.
By backtracking on the implementation of Electricity Bill, NDA said the new government signalled the worsening of power situation in the country.