The 2013-14 budget has brought criticism for deputy chairman of planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia for allowing P Chidambaram to allocate the lowest-ever increase in the plan expenditure, especially for social sector schemes.
Ahluwalia, however, defended himself by blaming the central ministries for not spending the allocated money last year and making his position weak in front of the finance minister, in a fiscally-constraint year.
"The ministries were able to spend only 54% of their last year's budget, while they should have spent 67% of their allocations. Since they were not able to produce fund utilisation target, the finance minister did not allocate money to those ministries," said Ahluwalia.
The opposition has also accused the finance minister of not allowing ministries to spend money to keep the revised estimates of budgetary allocations low.
“The finance minister just went by the rule. The ministries should not spend more than 33% in the last quarter of a fiscal. If you allow that to happen, the ministries do that in a way that leads to a lot of leakages," said Ahluwalia.
The real hike in plan expenditure based on budget estimates of Rs5.21 lakh crore for 2012-13 comes to only 6.58% at Rs5.55 lakh crore. This is the lowest hike given in the past four years of UPA government on the budget estimates. In 2012-13 the hike in plan expenditure was 18%.
Popular schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Development Act and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna either saw decline or no hike in their allocations for which the the government has faced criticism.
Ahluwalia also said this being a fiscally-constrained year he considered it prudent to be realistic in his demand for money. He also said that the government should have food security subsidy high on its agenda and if need be, it should rather make a cut in the fertilizers and fuel subsidy
"Personally I am against subsidy on fertilizers. The use of fertilizers, especially urea should be curtailed as it takes away the nutrients of the land. We should make chemical fertilizers expensive by increasing their prices and rather promote organic fertilizers,” said Ahluwalia.