Taxpayers paying for subsidies given during UPA regime: Sitharaman

Hitting out at Congress, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that the tax payers of today are paying for the subsidy dished out to consumers more than a decade ago by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“I would like to say that the taxpayers of today are paying for the subsidy dished out to consumers more than a decade ago by the UPA government, and they will continue to pay for the next five years as the redemption of the (oil) bond continues until 2026,” Sitharaman said while replying to the debate on the Supplementary Demands for Grants­–Second Batch for the year 2021-22 in Lok Sabha, which were passed by the House through a voice-vote. The finance minister, however, didn’t go into details of the oil bonds issued by the previous UPA government to subsidize fuel prices.

Quoting the then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Sitharaman said, “What I want to draw your attention to, hon. Chairman Sir, is that even the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in an address to the nation on 4th June, 2008, said, “However, I would like the nation to remember that issuing bonds and loading deficits on oil companies is not a permanent solution to this problem. We are only passing on our burden to our children who will have to repay this debt”.”

She said that even Dr Singh had agreed that oil bonds do not solve the problem.

Responding to members’ observations regarding Supplementary Demands for Grants, Sitharaman said, “Members had said that this time the Demands is very high. Is it because we under-estimated in the BE, and therefore, we have come up with a higher Demands? I just want to highlight repeatedly that the total demand is Rs. 3,73,761 crore, of which, Rs. 2,99,243 crore is the additional cash outgo.

“It is also because of the big-ticket expenditure we are going in for. It also involves the amount allocated for Air India… Also, at a time when we are very, very sensitive to the farmers and their requests, and since the international prices of fertilizers have gone up… increase in the subsidy for fertilizer has been provided,” she said.

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