Kejriwal has given perverse twist to debate on freebies, says FM

Kejriwal has given perverse twist to debate on freebies, says FM
New Delhi: Amid raging debates over freebies and subsidies, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that providing health and education to the poor and needy has been a key component of the government’s welfare measures and they do not constitute ‘freebies’.

The remarks came in response to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s repeated assertion implying that Centre was not in favour of several welfare measures such as health and education.

“Delhi Chief Minister has given perverse twist to the debate on freebies. Health and education have never been called freebies. No Indian government has ever denied them. So classifying education and health as freebies, Kerjiwal is trying to bring in a sense of worry and fear in minds of poor. There should be a genuine debate on this matter,” Sitharaman said.

Speaking to reporters here today, the Minister stated that irrespective of the ideology of political parties education and health have been among the top priorities of the government.

Sitharaman said that there have been efforts to raise public spending on health and education to 6 pc of the GDP.

With many political parties promising to offer various facilities for free such as electricity and water, there has been a concern raised by a section of economists that such measures could lead to collapse of states’ public finances.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has triggered the debate around the issue terming various subsidies, allurements ahead of polls and free services as “revdi culture.”

He recently requested state governments to clear pending dues of power distribution companies (discoms) and power generation companies (gencos) to restore the financial health of such utilities.

The total outstanding of states to the power companies stand at a staggering Rs 2.5 lakh crore.

As the discussion around “freebie culture” gathers momentum, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has defended various free services to the people. He has been mounting attack on Prime Minister Modi-led NDA government insisting that it is the responsibility of the government to provide free health, education and other basic facilities.

During his campaign in Gujarat, Kejriwal has promised to give free electricity to households if his party wins the assembly election.

He has also announced to give monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 to women.


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