No big idea in budget but fiscal consolidation good: Chidambaram

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) Former finance minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said there was “no big idea” in the 2016-17 general budget but commended the government on the fiscal consolidation issue.

“There is no big idea in the budget. One virtue of the budget is that it has left every section of people equally disappointed. This budget is a wasted opportunity,” Chidambaram told the media here.

“I am happy that the government has spurned the advise of Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and went in for fiscal consolidation. I take this as a vindication of the (earlier) United Progressive Alliance government’s policy on fiscal consolidation,” the Congress leader added.

He said ‘reform’ was a misunderstood word for the government.

“Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) had promised to reform to transform. The word ‘reform’ is a little understood but much-used word. Reform means reform of factor markets or product markets. There is little evidence of such reforms in the budget. The National Democratic Alliance has followed its own brand of budget-making, which is just housekeeping and accounting,” said Chidambaram.

Chidamabaram also said that the government has wisely refrained from predicting the growth rate for 2016-17.

On the issue of tax collection, he said: “The government is boasting that they collected more tax than ever. It was not from corporate or income tax but due to excise duties on petrol and diesel.”

“There is lukewarm reference to the Goods and Sales Tax Bill but there is no promise of accommodating the legitimate criticism by the opposition. I am happy that the UPA schemes have been continued but the crucial problem is price. There is no major initiative in increasing productivity of crucial crops,” the Congress leader said.

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