Union Budget 2017 'utterly disappointing': Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday described the Union Budget as "utterly disappointing" and said it did not say with "clarity" how much black money or fake currency was netted during the 50 days after demonetisation.

He also slammed the Centre for merging the Railway Budget with the General Budget, saying "The government has ruined the railway."

Nitish Kumar. File photo. Reuters

Nitish Kumar. File photo. Reuters

Kumar was particularly harsh on the NDA government for no mention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promises before the Bihar Assembly polls about a special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore, special status to the state and providing the remaining amount of Rs 6,200 crore under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF).

"I heard Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's nearly two-hour-long speech with the expectation that he would say something concrete on black money or assistance to Bihar, but nothing came...Though I respect Jaitley, I am compelled to say his speech today was boring and utterly disappointing," he told reporters.

Kumar, who broke ranks with his alliance partners, RJD and Congress, to support Centre's demonetisation, expressed disappointment also over Jaitley not making any reference to the outcome of the decision to scrap high-value bank notes. "Those of us who supported demonetisation wish to know how much black money and fake currencies fell in the net during the 50-day drive," the JD(U) president said.

"Since there was no clarity on these issues, those who supported demonetisation are now left disappointed," he added.

On imposing surcharge on those having huge cash, Kumar said the process will take time. "There is no mention of paying compensation to those who faced the immediate brunt of demonetisation. Many in the unorganised sector have lost jobs due to the step," he said.

"Instead of saying anything concrete on the outcome of demonetisation, emphasis has now been laid on cashless transactions as a part of diversionary tactics," he alleged.

"In a country like India, a complete cashless system is not possible as use of currency is part of the citizens' habit...You (Centre) chant lofty slogans about digital transactions, but no concern is seen to strengthen the infrastructure for it by increasing the number of bank
branches at the grassroot-level," Kumar said.

"Earlier, thieves used to steal cash from people's pockets or houses. But now, anybody standing near you at the ATM, with the help of a machine, can steal all the data and withdraw your money illegally," he said.

Updated Date: Feb 01, 2017 20:22 PM

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