Budget fails to address issues of eco development: Sinha

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Kolkata, Mar 4 (UNI) The Union budget for 2008-09 is a populist one with an eye on the next Parliamentary election, and has failed to address the main issues relating to the overall economic development of the country, former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said today.

Interacting with the members of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) here, Mr Sinha said waiving of loan to farmers amounting Rs 60,000 crore would send a wrong signal towards fiscal discipline.

'' A strong economy reinforced by equally strong revenue buoyancy has given the Finance Minister a lot of space to work but the budget proposals has not benefitted the common people,'' he observed.

Mr Sinha said though critical sectors like health and education have received considerable attention in the budget, in proportionate terms these increases were not ''very different'' from previous years.

'' What is important is the delivery mechanism and the 'trickle down effect' of growth towards the intended beneficiaries,'' he observed.

Referring to the infrastructure sector, Mr Sinha said no major thrust or directive has been noticed for the sector in the budget proposals and the availability of resources for the sector has been enhanced by tapping into extra-budgetary resources.

'' There is no directive towards public-private partnership projects in the sector,'' he maintained.

Mr Sinha said though the fiscal deficit was reportedly on a declining trend, the numbers did not take into account the non-cash transfers in the forms of bonds issued to oil, food and fertiliser companies.

'' These bonds are off-balance sheet and do not bloat the fiscal deficit and it is the area which needs attention,'' he remarked.

On the taxation front, Mr Sinha regretted that there was no change in corporate tax rate terming it as a major disappointment for the corporate sector which has been driving the economic growth of the country.

'' Instead of reducing short term capital gains tax from 10 per cent to around 5 per cent, it has been increased to 15 per cent which is a major disappointment,'' the former Finance Minister opined.

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