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Former Finance Minister Chidambaram slams Centre over Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package


New Delhi, May 18: Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has expressed "deep regret" that the Centre's fiscal stimulus package has "left high and dry" several sections, including those 13 crore families in the bottom half of the population.


In a video conference, Chidambaram said, "We express our thorough disappointment and request the government to reconsider the stimulus package and announce a revised and comprehensive fiscal stimulus package of not less than Rs 10 lakh crore of real additional expenditure, equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP."

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Chidambaram also said a fiscal stimulus of Rs 1,86,650 crore, amounting to barely 0.91 per cent of GDP, would be "totally inadequate given the gravity of the economic crisis and the dire situation" in which people find themselves due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis.

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of Rs 20-lakh crore stimulus package on May 12, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the press conference and gave details of that package in five tranches.

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Reacting to that, the senior Congress leader said he and the party carefully analysed the contents of the five tranches and looked into analyses put out by economists, agencies and banks.

"With deep regret, we note that the fiscal stimulus package has left several sections high and dry, including the bottom half of the population, migrant workers, farmers, landless agricultural labour, daily wage non-agricultural labour, workers who have been laid off or retrenched and units who have lost their jobs, self-employed who have no work, seven crore shopkeepers, lower middle class families who have run out of cash and are forced to borrow, and 5.8 crore MSMEs," he added.

The former Finance Minister said that Nirmala Sitharaman had acknowledged that additional expenditure must be financed by additional borrowing.

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