Delhi assembly passes Budget; Sisodia calls it ‘people-friendly’

New Delhi: The Delhi assembly on Friday passed the 2017-18 Budget that AAP legislators hailed as “poor-friendly” but BJP leader Vijender Gupta slammed it for not keeping promises.

Gupta, who is Leader of Opposition in the assembly, said the fiscal deficit and revenue expenditure had increased while Value Added Tax collection and capital spending had decreased in the Budget estimates.

Gupta also slammed Finance Minister Manish Sisodia for “forgetting” the Aam Aamdi Party’s (AAP) poll promises on Wi-Fi and Mohalla Sabhas, which were mentioned in the last year’s Budget as well.

Sisodia dubbed Gupta’s allegations as “misleading” and that the government had “separate provision for all these projects in the Budget”.

Sisodia, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, said the Budget was “people-friendly” and was being praised across the nation and even finance ministers of other states were congratulating him.

Earlier, Gupta tore into the “first Outcome Budget” and said the government “earlier talked about the Swaraj Budget and then forgot about it”.

He said the capital expenditure in Delhi’s Budget had reduced from 25 per cent in 2015-16 to under 20 per cent in 2017-18.

The BJP leader said the VAT collection had also decreased under the AAP rule while the fiscal deficit and revenue expenditure had increased.

He accused the Arvind Kejriwal government of misleading the people about doubling the budgetary allocation for education and increase in allocations for health by a half.

“In 2014-15, 17 per cent of the total Budget was spent on education. You said it would be doubled but even in 2015-16, only 17 per cent was actually spent on education.”

“In the Revised Estimates for 2016-17 as well, only 18 per cent was spent on education. And now in the 2017-18 Budget, you have proposed around Rs 9,000 crore out of the total Rs 48,000 crore which also amounts to around 18 per cent,” he said.

Responding to Gupta’s remarks, Sisodia said the government had allocated Rs 11,300 crore for education.

“Had Vijender ji gone through the whole Budget copy carefully, he would have got to know the exact amount.”

“On Page 8 of the Budget copy, Rs 10,186 crore are allocated for education; on Page 14, Rs 1,054 crore; while on Page 60, another Rs 60 crore is allocated for education. If you sum up, it amounts to Rs 11,300 crore,” Sisodia said.

The Deputy Chief Minister said that the AAP government had changed the definition of development and it was no more focusing only on capital expenditure in the traditional sense.

“They feel building bridges is capital; but we feel building the future of our youths is actual capital,” the AAP leader said.

Sisodia said the Delhi government was more focused on improving lives of the people than constructing roads and bridges.

The Budget was passed by a voice vote after a discussion that lasted two days. The AAP has absolute majority in the house.