Chidambaram attacks Arun Jaitley’s economic policies

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram attacked the Modi government for its economic policies and targeted finance minister Arun Jaitley in particular by saying that he would have resigned if he were in his position.

The former finance minister was speaking at an event in Kolkata when he said that he would not want to be in Jaitley’s “unenviable situation” for having read a budget speech that was written by others. He said he would have definitely tendered in his resignation had he been in Jaitley’s shoes.

Chidambaram then went on to criticize the government’s ambitious goods and service tax (GST) by calling it a “problem child.” He said the GST that Congress had envisaged had a flat base of 18% only, instead of four slabs introduced by this government. How will GST grow at 67% as the government wants if it keeps reducing rates, he asked.

The Congress leader also said that PM Narendra Modi’s government has failed fiscal consolidation test and it will not be able to meet its targets in this regard in the next financial year. He described this situation as “frightening”, saying it has the potential to cause increase in inflation, debt and taxes.

Targeting Arun Jaitley’s budgetary provisions next, Chidambaram said that the government’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme is just a “jumla” that will take months to fully come into effect. He argued that states should not be forced to contribute 40% of expenses towards this scheme and that they must be allowed to come up with their own plans.