New Delhi, Feb. 14: Congress leaders today pleaded with finance minister P. Chidambaram to not compromise on social sector schemes despite constraints of a sliding economy as the party has to face a series of polls this year followed by the general election in 2014.
At the annual pre-budget consultation with the party, Chidambaram explained the difficulties created by slow domestic growth and continuing global recession while admitting the importance of sustaining social sector programmes that the UPA government had launched.
He said former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had succeeded in saving India from the ill effects of unprecedented global slowdown but the special measures taken by him to support the industry cannot be a regular feature.
Chidambaram stressed the need for a balanced approach as keeping the fundamentals of the economy strong in the face of rising deficit and slowing investments was as important as the pro-poor flagship schemes.
But no Congress leader advocated tough measures or suggested ways to reduce the deficit and subsidies. Schemes for tribals, minorities and poor got maximum emphasis at the meeting.
While many leaders talked about diversion of funds given for flagship social sector programmes in states, some leaders demanded higher exemption limit for personal income-tax and ways to avoid double taxation and rationalisation of multiple service taxes.