SRINAGAR: National Conference (NC) and Congress legislators sharply criticised the finance minister’s budget in the lower house of the assembly on Tuesday.
Haseeb Drabu had presented a Rs 64,679-crore budget before the assembly on Monday.
Congress legislator Nuwang Rinzing Jora said the budget, which was presented as a tribute to late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has “no vision, no direction but only a good use of language.”
“There is no economist Drabu in the budget. It looks more of an accountant’s work. The purpose of a budget is to see how the state can be taken forward in the coming time. We can see no such thing in this budget,” Jora said.
“You (Drabu) had said that the state would be made self sufficient. You won’t go with the begging bowl to New Delhi. In the past one year what has happened to that. We are still dependent on them,” he said.
On the return of NHPC power projects to the state, Jora told Drabu that these power projects would never be returned to the state.
“What happened to the return of power projects? Let me be on record, power projects promised under agenda of alliance won’t ever be returned. Instead you should focus on the state’s own power projects to make it a surplus state,” Jora said.
Jora said Drabu has missed the opportunity of introducing gender budgeting.
“With Mehboob Ji as Chief Minister there was the opportunity to introduce gender budgeting with the objective of gender mainstreaming,” he said.
NC legislator Devender Singh Rana called Drabu’s budget as a “beautiful display of words, a story, and a tactical way of presenting the budget.”
“You write well, you have good hold on the language. No one knows juggling with numbers better than you. This tactic was used as a divisionary tactic to divert the attention from the main budget and focus on such thing, because FM has nothing to show in his budget,” he said.
“You shielded economic survey report. Because you felt it will expose nothingness of the government’s work as the report tell us about the how the previous budget has helped in growing the health of the state economy,” he added.
Rana also reminded Drabu of the promises he had made in his first budget last year.
“When you presented first budget, we were told that post dated checks will be cashed. My friend all your post dated checks promised in this house have bounced and nothing has come out of that,” Rana said. “You had said that a list of capital assets created in a year will be presented before the house, where is that?”
Rana asked Drabu to state his position on the ‘fiscal hara-kiri’ and ‘ponzi-game’ he had referred in his budget speech.
“The ponzi was there in the system when you were economic advisor to the state government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed… Why did not you point it out that that time? If you did not know it then, it is your incompetence or if you knew and you were silent it means you were also part of ponzi,” Rana said.
“In his last speech Drabu said he will credit DA amount in the GP fund. Sir, if that money was going into the ponzi, why then did you do it? You should have invested and saved that money,” he said.
“You are a very good economist, theoretically very sound but practically you have not rubbed your shoulder on the ground.”
Raina asked Drabu if Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 crore were lying unused in various accounts of the government departments, why he did not use them when the treasury was dry last year.
Rana also questioned free-education-for-girl announcement made by the government in the budget.
“Fee is not being paid by the children even today,” said Rana.
However, the MoS later rose up from the treasury Benches, saying that the minimal fee was paid by the students.
“It was never free. Rs 56 were charged for students till primary and 100 till Middle. But from yesterday, it is now completely free,” she said.
On the 7th Pay Commission, Rana said the government must implement the commission’s recommendations at the same time the Indian government would implement them.
“What debate? It is a commitment to the employees for their work. They need to be paid their salary. We don’t need to have debate on it. Implement the 7th pay commission when it is implemented across the country,” he said, adding that the government should not “surrender” to GST regime.
“Surrendering to GST will be a great tragedy. You are a champion of Kashmiriyat and Kashmiri culture. So, please don’t prostrate before GST. History will never forgive you if you gave up that power otherwise posterity will never forgive you,” he said.
Rana also complemented the government on gender-specific announcements made in the budget.