Amid concerns in Congress, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today assured party MPs that funds will not be a constraint in implementing the ambitious Food Security Act.
Chidambaram also ruled out any roll back of the proposal in the budget to introduce a law which will empower officials to arrest service tax evaders even as some party MPs in the meeting felt there was a need to have a re-look at it.
The Finance Minister was briefing 100-odd party MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the Union Budget, a preparatory exercise for party members before the discussion on the budget in Parliament.
The name of Narendra Modi also cropped up during the one- and-half-hour interaction over the claims of the Gujarat Chief Minister on the issue of development. Some said his
development claims are not right.
Chidambaram told the MPs during the interaction that despite the financial constraints before the government in a scenario of global economic slow-down, the government has not compromised
anywhere so far in funding of flagship schemes like MNREGA.
He said "funds would not be a problem" as the MPs wondered why only a sum of Rs 10,000 crores have been earmarked for the food scheme in the budget.
As part of the government's efforts to kickstart the growth engine, Chidambaram told concerned ministries to get early approvals for their plans so that they could go cracking in the year ahead.
The Finance Minister told the MPs that some tough steps are required at this moment. "we have to control fiscal deficit. We do not have much resources at this time. So, whatever we have to, we will have to do within limited resources," Chidambaram is learnt to have said.
The issue of the fiscal incentives given to business communities in the last three years was also briefly mentioned in the meeting.
The Finance Minister was asked by the MPs how will the government increase the growth rate of the economy. They expressed concern over the slowdown in growth and wanted to know the measures being taken to arrest the slide.
The meeting also saw a number of MPs questioning why the gap between the rich and the poor is widening.
Some members also raised the problems faced by industrialists in the country.
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