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MSMEs: Sitharaman, Gadkari should ‘settle their accounts’ first, says Chidambaram

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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram took a swipe at the Centre on Friday, saying the ministers of finance and MSMEs should “settle their accounts” first and allow the MSMEs to save themselves without the government’s “help”.

He highlighted the differences between Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari, with the latter saying that governments and PSUs owe Rs 5 lakh crore as unpaid dues to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), while Sitharaman has said the government will offer collateral-free loans worth Rs 3 lakh crore to the MSMEs.

“Minister Gadkari says that governments and PSUs owe Rs 5 lakh crore as unpaid dues to MSMEs. Minister Sitharaman says she will offer collateral free loan of Rs 3 lakh crore to MSMEs (numbering 45 lakhs). So, who is the lender and who is the borrower?!

“Will the two ministers ‘settle their accounts’ first and let MSMEs save themselves without government’s ‘help’,” Chidambaram, a former Union finance minister, said in a series of tweets.

Another senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, hit out at the government, saying what Sitharaman announced as part of an economic package was actually announced in the budget.

“Madam Finance Minister, one simple question. What is the ADDITIONAL cash you are putting into the system over the next 6 months?

“The announcements you made today are mostly contained in your budget presented on Feb 1. Another case of repackaging and remarketing,” the former Union minister said on Twitter.

Ramesh also highlighted that Food Minister Ramvilas Paswan had, on June 29 last year, talked about ‘one nation, one ration card’, while the finance minister spoke of the same again on Thursday.

“‘Atmanirbhar arthashastra’ means maximum recycling & repackaging. An example: Ram Vilas Paswan makes an announcement on June 29 2019 for ‘One Nation One Ration Card’. Nirmala Sitharaman repeats the same announcement on May 14 2020,” he said in another tweet.

“One Government, Many Jumlas,” Ramesh said.

“80% of the bogus 20 lakh crore package announced. What more recycling and gimmickry remains? How many more jumlas will India endure as pain, agony and distress intensifies,” the Congress leader asked.

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