Chidambaram seeks clarification on measures announced by FM Sitharaman

P Chidambaram said two of the measures announced by Sitharaman on Friday had already been launched earlier under the Expenditure Budget for 2020-21

P Chidambaram, GDP growth rate, Indian economy,
P Chidambaram sought clarifications on whether the funds they had allotted now under the two measures were already included as part of the Budget or additional amounts introduced. File photo: PTI

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram on Saturday (May 16) continued his cross-examination on Twitter of the details put out by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman regarding the economic stimulus package announced for the revival of the economy.

Chidambaram said two of the measures announced by Sitharaman on Friday (May 15) had already been launched earlier under the Expenditure Budget for 2020-21, and sought clarifications on whether the funds they had allotted now under the two measures were already included as part of the Budget or additional amounts introduced.

He mentioned the ₹500 crore introduced for bee-keeping, and the ₹13,343 crore announced for the fight against foot and mouth disease, and said the Expenditure Budget for 2020-21 had already allocated ₹2,400 crore for bee-keeping under the National Horticulture Mission.

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Similarly, he said the fight against foot and mouth disease had already been launched under the Animal Disease Control Programme for 2020-21 with a 5-year outlay of ₹13,343 crore and an allocation of ₹1,300 crore.

“FM may please clarify whether the sums she announced yesterday (₹500 crore and ₹13,343 crore) are subsumed in the Expenditure Budget numbers or additional sums of money,” he added.

Sitharaman on Friday announced the third tranche of economic measures, which mainly focused on agriculture, to help with the revival of the economy.

Chidambaram had also taken a dig at Sitharaman and Union Minister for MSMEs Nitin Gadkari for contradicting each other’s statements on collateral-free loans for MSMEs.

While addressing a media briefing on the stimulus package on May 15, Sitharaman had announced ₹3 lakh crore for collateral-free automatic loans that would reportedly benefit 45 lakh MSMEs.

However, Gadkari had said in an interview to CNBC-TV18 that government agencies owed ₹5 lakh crore in unpaid dues to MSMEs.

The Congress, as a whole, has been critical of the measures announced so far, with some even calling it a “farce”.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “One thing is clear… the so-called ₹20 lakh crore economic package has proved to be a jumla package. It reflects the ‘voodoo’ economics being followed by the Prime Minister and Finance Minister.”

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