P.Chidambaram on Monday exclaimed that the Centre did not provide any money for two of the huge schemes announced in the Union Budget 2018-19, namely the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) and increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
“They have announced some great ‘jumlas’, one of them is ‘National Health Protection Scheme’. 10 crore families, 50 crores people will be covered up to Rs 5 lakh each, and how much is the money provided? Zero,” Chidambaram said at an interactive session on India’s fiscal reforms at Bharat Chamber of Commerce.
“MSP will be cost plus 50 percent; the details are not out yet. How much is the extra money provided? Zero. If you are going to implement such great schemes, you must provide money for it,” the Congress leader continued and added that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said he would find money when the Opposition raised this question.
“The only way a Finance Minister can find money is by raising taxes. There is no money to find, it’s after all the money you could find that you projected a fiscal deficit of 3.3 percent the next year. Are you going to raise extra taxes? No answer. Or is there some hidden source of income we don’t know about? Have the Lalit Modis and Nirav Modis promised you money?” asked Chidambaram.
The NHPS is part of Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana, world’s largest health insurance scheme.
The scheme envisages to cover a total of nearly 10 crore families or 50 crore beneficiaries, with a sum of Rs 5,00,000 per family per year, and a premium of Rs 1000-1200 per year, which will be borne by the government and state in a 60:40 ratio.
Taking ahead the vision to double farmers’ income by 2022, the government decided to keep the MSP of all hitherto unannounced crops of Kharif at least at one and half times of their production cost.
As a primary measure, the government announced raising institutional credit for the agriculture sector to Rs 11 lakh crore for the year 2018-19 from Rs 10 lakh crore in 2017-18.
In his speech, Chidambaram also pointed that the 3.3 percent fiscal deficit target set in the Union Budget for 2018-19 is more than it is supposed to be (3 percent), and said, “Next year, we may have to pay a heavy price, we may end up with 3.5 or 3.6 fiscal deficit.”
Remarking on the rising fiscal deficit, Chidambaram said, “On the test of fiscal consolidation, the government has failed the people of this country. Instead of consolidating fiscally, this government has slipped badly on fiscal consolidation and we are going to pay the price this year and next year.”>