Replying to a debate on the Budget in the Rajya Sabha, she said spending on defence for the fiscal beginning April 1 has increased both on revenue and capital side and there is a decline only in provision for pensions as the previous year’s spending included payment of arrears for the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) scheme. “A false narrative is created to accuse that this government works only for cronies,” the finance minister said as she reeled out statistics to show the government’s pro-poor policies.
Taking on Chidambaram, who in his speech called the numbers in the Budget “suspect”, Sitharaman said the former finance minister during his term in 2007-08 showed Rs 40,000 crore fiscally neutral transaction of acquiring the RBI’s stake in SBI under capital expenditure to show a 62 per cent growth in spending. If this is taken out, “growth rate was only 9 per cent”, she said, asking if this was not ‘suspect’. She said her Budget for 2021-22 has provided the highest capex growth of 34.4 per cent by providing more money to railways, roads and defence, and not Chidambaram’s.
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