Sitharaman presents Budget amid opposition taunts, applause from treasury benches
New Delhi: Lok Sabha members heard Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s 90-minute budget speech in rapt attention, barring the occasional remarks by opposition members and regular applause from the treasury benches.
Keeping in line with changing times, Sitharaman read out the speech from a ‘Made in India’ tablet personal computer which she carried in a red cover with the National Emblem embossed on it, instead of a brief case or ‘Bahi Khata’.
As Sitharaman walked into the Lok Sabha chamber, women ministers Shobha Karandlaje and Darshana Jardosh and member from Madhya Pradesh Riti Pathak were seen greeting her, while Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw gave her a thumbs up.
With Covid pandemic guidelines in force, members were seated in the chambers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Most of the members, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were seen wearing face masks. However, members had crowded the Lok Sabha chamber, while hardly a handful of others, including union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal, were seen seated in the Rajya Sabha chamber.
Members from the treasury benches greeted Modi as he entered the Lok Sabha chamber with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, and ‘Har, Har Mahadev’. A BJP member was heard asking about Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi, a Lok Sabha member from Wayanad was seated in his usual seat in the second row, engrossed all the time in his tablet PC.
Trinamool member Saugata Roy and DMK member Dayanidhi Maran were heard criticising the allocation made for setting up an international arbitration centre at GIFT city. “Is this Union Budget or Gujarat Budget? This is good only for Gujarat,” Roy and Maran were heard as saying.
The duo also demanded greater allocation for states from the GST collections when the finance minister mentioned gross GST collection of Rs 1.40 lakh crore for January 2022.
Opposition members demanded allocation of 5G spectrum to BSNL, when Sitharaman mention that the government planned to auction 5G spectrum in the next financial year.
Congress members protested the announcements related to strategic sale of Air India and Neelanchal Ispat Nigam Limited and the planned IPO of Life Insurance Corporation.
“It is a sell-off of institutions,” Congress member T N Prathapan was heard saying.
Several members were dismayed at the non-availability of the hard copies of the Budget Speech of the Finance Minister. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said the speech copies would be available after the presentation of the Budget.
Power Minister R K Singh was seen ensuring that Sitharaman had her supply of lemonade, which she sipped at regular intervals, during her address.
Cabinet approves Union Budget for 2022-23
The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday approved the Budget 2022-23, sources said.
The Budget will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a short while from now in the Lok Sabha.
The Budget documents usually include the finance minister’s speech in Parliament, highlights, annual financial statement, finance bill containing tax proposals, memorandum explaining the provisions in the financial bill, and macroeconomic framework statement.
They also include the medium-term fiscal policy cum fiscal policy strategy statement, outcome framework for schemes, customs notification, implementation of previous Budget announcements, receipt budget, expenditure budget and statement of budget estimates.