Manmohan takes dig at Jaitley over demonetisation remark

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over his remark on demonetisation, saying there is no indication as to what makes him convinced that its effect will be temporary and not affect the growth of the economy.

Singh, also a noted economist, however, kept his judgement of the Union Budget reserved, saying it has far too many items and it is very difficult to react about the impact.

“There is no indication as to what makes the Finance Minister convinced that demonetisation effect will be temporary and it will not affect the growth of the economy,” Singh said.

Softening the demonetisation blow, the Union Budget for 2017-18 halved the tax to 5 per cent on incomes up to Rs 5 lakh but proposed a new surcharge of 10 per cent on incomes between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore and raised duties on cigarettes and pan masala while stepping up allocations for infrastructure, rural, agriculture and social sectors.

“(There were) far too many items (in the budget). It is very difficult to immediately react about the impact of this budget,” Singh said.

Asked whether the focus of the budget was right, he said, “(As for focus) plan-non plan distinction is gone. In its place, revenue and capital have been introduced. One needs to see how will it impact on the economy,” he said.

The opposition denounced the Union Budget with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi saying it lacked a clear vision and had nothing for farmers, youths and job creation while Mamata Banerjee dubbed it as “clueless, useless and heartless” and questioned why no data on demonetisation was given.

Terming the budget as “contractionary” and a “complete gimmick”, the Left parties alleged that the figures given by the Finance Minister do not match the reality.