A cross-section of stakeholders, including trade bodies and economists, and politicians on Saturday hailed the Union Budget 2020-21 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament, even as the opposition criticized it as “anti-people and anti-economy”.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) North-East Council, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) North-East Chapter, Tea Association of India, Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER) termed the Budget “pragmatic and positive”.
CII North-East Council Chairman S.K. Barua applauded the Budget and said that the Krishi Udaan Scheme will boost agricultural sector exports in northeast India.
“The Kisan Rail scheme will also benefit farmers of the northeast region. There have been many takeaways for the MSME sector also. Overall, it is a progressive and growth- oriented Budget,” he added.
FICCI North-East Advisory Council Chairman Ranjit Barthakur said it is a pragmatic and balanced Budget in rather difficult times.
“The focus on agriculture and infrastructure is welcome. The Budget has made an allocation of Rs 2.83 lakh crore for agriculture and allied sectors and also announced credit availability of Rs 15 lakh crore for the rural and agri-sector.
“These measures will help revive the demand in the rural economy. We hope part of the agriculture allocation will also be used for the tea and animal husbandry sectors,” Barthakur added.
He also welcomed the move to develop inland waterways on the Brahmaputra.
FINER leaders termed the Budget proposals growth-oriented and a boost to agriculture and allied sectors.
Tea Association of India Secretary-General P.K. Bhattacharjee said that the change in incentive schemes for chemical fertilisers, as proposed in the budget, might impact the tea industry.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the Budget was “pro-people” and structured on the overall theme of “Ease of Living.”
In a statement, he said that it would help the northeastern states, including Assam, to climb the ladder of “optimum growth” as “Kisan Rail” and “Kisan Udaan” would facilitate farmers in seamless supply of their produce and sell them in international markets in the wake of the government’s “Act East Policy”.
Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also expressed satisfaction over the Budget which he said would inspire growth and create employment.
Tripura Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma, who holds the finance portfolio, echoed the views of his Assam counterpart.
“The budget is very comprehensive. Agricultural and allied sectors, education and health sectors are given priority. More coordinated measures have been incorporated. More funds for various flagship schemes will only egg on growth,” Dev Varma added.
On the other hand, senior Tripura Congress leader Gopal Roy termed the Budget “anti-people and anti-economy, adding that “no sufficient allotment of funds was made for the northeastern region. The BJP government is only keen to sell the country’s significant PSUs like Air India and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.”
Roy said there was no word about waiving of farmers’ loans.
Leading economist M.P. Bezbarua said that the Budget’s primary focus on the rural economy was an important issue that the government took up in right earnest.
“The Finance Minister has reiterated to double farmers income by 2022. Comprehensive measures for 100 water-stressed districts have been proposed. Major reforms through PM-KUSUM, Krishi Udan and Kisan Rail schemes are steps in the right direction which will benefit the northeast region as well,” Bezbarua pointed out.