Chennai: Strongly defending this year’s Union budget, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on 11 March said it was aimed at distributing the fruits of economic growth equitably among all sections, especially the weak and the poor.
Speaking at a function organised by the Congress here, Chidambaram said: “If the 1997 budget was a message to the world that India was ready to enter the competition driven market economy and achieve economic growth, the budget 2007 was a message to the people of India that we are ready to share the benefits of growth to the weaker and neglected sections of the society.”
Chidambaram said if the 1997 budget was a ‘dream budget’, aimed at the growth of industries and service, the 2007 budget was a ‘green budget’ to lift the struggling agricultural economy and achieve four per cent growth in the sector.
No tax exemptions and concessions were given to corporate sector ‘since it was not necessary’, he said adding Industries and Services had already recorded more than 8% growth and this would continue this year also.
The corporates in the country were earning a net profit of about 4.84 lakh crores and paying 19.26% of their profit as tax and the government had not increased its tax.
The Centre had done nothing to affect their profit or economic growth, he said.
“You are prospering and you continue to prosper. We have done nothing to harm you. There are other weak sectors and weaker sections like farmers to be taken care of,” he said.
The finance minister also said debt, water scarcity, inadequate availability of quality seeds, fertilisers and quality electricity at the required time were affecting agriculture.
“These shortcomings should be rectified to achieve four per cent growth in the sector and to contain inflation and price rise,” he added.
The rate of pulses were going up because their annual production -- 1.45 crore tonnes-- was less than the needed 1.60 crore tonne. To double the yield of pulses within three years, steps were being taken to provide quality seeds, he said.
“The Centre has decided to provide loans amounting to Rs 2.25 lakh crore to farmers this year at 7% interest rate.
A World Bank assisted Rs 2,182 crore project to revitalise the water resources in Tamil Nadu has been announced and similar plans would be taken up in other states also, he said.
Around Rs 11,000 crore has been allocated to complete the pending irrigation projects and Rs 18,000 crore has been earmarked to grant subsidies to 70 lakh farmers for digging wells, he said adding India would face serious problems if water problem was not addressed.