Finance Minister Piyush Goyal's Budget 2019 announcements on Friday were mostly focused on small scale farmers, lower middle class, salaried people, and unorganised sector workers. Though many are calling it an election Budget, the Finance Minister believes it takes care of every sector of the economy. Interim Finance Minister, in an interview with India Today's Rahul Kanwal, said the government had been performing consistently for the past five years, and that now it was in a much better position than it was in 2014.
Goyal added the structural reforms like demonetisation were the "biggest success of our government" and that they changed the mentality of the country and put it on a path of honesty.
Asking if the Budget was mainly focused on pleasing the voters, especially since the BJP lost three states in the recent elections, Goyal said the BJP had inherited a mess, and worked persistently in the past five years. "It isn't something we did out of the blue... between 2008 and 2014, bank loans were given on the whims and fancies of people. We stopped all of that and strengthened the banking system in India. PM Modi had asked us to eradicate corruption and we all did that. What you see today has been the result of a five-year journey. I am here only for a few days, once Arun Jaitley returns, I will go back and look after Railways."
Goyal also said that the BJP was confident of coming back to power in 2019 and that the work done by the government will speak for itself. On being asked about the Opposition terming the Budget "count for votes, not vote on account", Goyal said the BJP thought about women, famers and the banking system. The Congress, on the other hand, ruled India for 40 years but did not do anything. "It was the Congress party that took this country for a ride. Despite being in power for so many years, they were not able to implement GST and we did it," he said.
On the question of announcing 'rebate' rather than increasing exemption limit in the income tax relaxation given to the salaried and middle class, Goyal clarified that he had made it clear that there won't be any changes in the taxation system. "This was an interim budget and we didn't want to do it. Whatever we have done, people will be benefitted by it," he said.
Goyal also clarified his government's stand on the latest NSSO report on employment data, which claimed the unemployment was at a 45-year high according to it. "Do you really think unemployment is at a 45-year high? If that was the case then how come are our GDP numbers so good? That's not possible without jobs, right? It is not possible if people don't purchase goods. We have put in a new system and we should wait for the new report. We are now doing a quarterly assessment to capture the mood of a fast-evolving economy. Media has kept an eye on us and we have been vigilant about our work. Everything has grown, from waterways, to Railways, to airports, everything points towards better economy," he said.
Over the resignation of two of its non government members, Goyal said "people resigned because they had some issues but let me tell you that I think the report is incorrect".
The government also announced benefits worth Rs 6,000 for each farmer, which it claimed would be delivered in their accounts from October 2019. Asking if Rs 16-17 a day was enough to sustain a family for farmers, Goyal said "this scheme is a way to honour our farmers who have done a lot for the nation".
Edited by Manoj Sharma