New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS): Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said the NDA government has done a lot to improve farmers' economic condition and refuted the criticism on the Rs 6,000 annual direct income support to them being meagre as the Lok Sabha approved the interim Budget.
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted an honest budget so the government raised the fiscal deficit target marginally to 3.4 per cent even though it could have mentioned it at 3.3 per cent.
Replying to the discussion on the interim Budget, which was later passed by the house by a voice vote, Goyal said the amount allocated for farmers in the budget was not small and provided constant annual income support.
"About 12 crore farmers getting Rs 6,000 each year, which translates into Rs 7.5 lakh crore in a span of 10 years, is not small by any means," he said, adding the government has earlier provided higher minimum support price (MSP) for 22 crops and that there has been marked improvements in the condition of farmers with steps like Ayushman Bharat.
Goyal also refuted the criticism that the government has presented a full Budget in an election year, saying "we have not announced any new scheme for the next year's Budget.
"Rather in 2014, the then UPA finance minister, without waiting for a regular Budget, had cut the duty on SUVs and big luxury cars for the rich while tinkering with the tax rates which is unusual in the interim Budget. Is an SUV car purchased by the middle class or farmers?"
The Finance Minister took a dig at the UPA government, saying no benefits were given to the farmers in the Budget but loans to the farmers doubled in the NDA government's rule.
He said Congress only brought one announcement in their 10 years from 2004-14 --farm loan waiver of Rs 60,000 crore. Even that was not provided in the budget and the actual number was brought down to Rs 52,000 crore a year later, he said.
Goyal said the government has worked for all sections of the society and has taken care of them in this budget.
"The poor, farmers and the middle-class are the government's priorities. Our government was the first to increase minimum support price for farmers," Goyal said in his speech.
The Lok Sabha later passed the Interim Budget after the day-long discussion. The Appropriation Bill authorising appropriation of moneys for the first four months of financial year (vote on account) and the Finance Bill were passed by voice vote amid the din in the House created by Telugu Desam Party members shouting slogans continuously demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh.