Defence procurement remained zero for ten years under the UPA-led government, claimed Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a Rajya Sabha debate on additional spending for the current fiscal year on Monday.
“For those concerned about the basic necessities for defence, for soldiers, for their firearms, bulletproof jackets, ammunition, carbines, and even fighter aircraft, I want to assure you that in the last ten years of Indian defence history, there have been no acquisitions.” Sir, ten years have passed. “We had to acquire everything from a pin to an aircraft after 2014,” Sitharaman remarked.
Sitharaman defended the government’s proposal to decrease the interest rate on employee provident fund deposits to an all-time low of 8.1 percent, saying the figure was determined by today’s circumstances, where interest rates on other small saving instruments were even lower.
She stated that the EPFO’s central board, which includes representatives from all stakeholders, including staff unions, made the decision to cut the interest rate.
“The EPFO has a Central Board that makes rate decisions. It has lowered the rate to 8.1 percent from 8.4 percent. I only want to inform the House that the EPFO Central Board, which includes representatives from many stakeholders for the Employees Pension Fund, has made a decision. It has not been hauled down in forty years. It’s been forty years! There are some current realities that keep us in the context of EPFO Central Board decisions. It has yet to be approved by the Finance Ministry.
“However, the truth remains that these are the rates that are in effect today, and they are still higher than the rest,” she continued.
Later, the House passed a money Bill introduced by the Finance Minister, authorising the government to pay and appropriate funds from the Consolidated Fund for the fiscal year 2021-22.
Another Appropriation Bill for the 2018-19 financial year was also returned by the Upper House of Parliament. The Lok Sabha had already passed both Appropriation Bills.