Union Budget, 2019-20: Anti-People and Anti-Worker

The  Union Budget 2019-20, presented by the Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman on behalf of the BJP Govt at the centre has turned out to be deceptive assurance for the mass of the people without any substantive provisions and a series of bonanza and giveaways for the corporates in various forms. If the policy-intentions of the Govt pronounced in the Economic Survey presented before Parliament on 4th July are taken into serious account, the budget proposals are in the same direction to achieve a single goal, to ensure bigger transfer of resources in favour of the rich and corporate extracting and looting more viciously from the mass of the common populace, the working people in particular, who are actually creating wealth from the country.

When the country’s economy has been seething in continuous slowdown in employment generating investments in real economy, unemployment rate consistently increasing reaching above 7.4% in June 2019, pushing the overall employment  level in the country to 45 years low, budget proposals has not bothered to address any of these basic problems in a substantive way except pronouncing  funny steps of setting up 80 Livelihood Business Incubators and 20 Technology Business Incubators to develop skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industries, which are actually envisaged to facilitate corporate entry and take-over of agriculture including land rights and destruction of petty production. In fact the Budget remained in a complete denial mode in addressing the agrarian crisis by way of augmenting public investment in agriculture and agricultural infrastructure, easy credit facility to small and marginal farmers and assured earning to agricultural workers.

The basic problem of squeezing size of the domestic markets because of declining consumption level owing to deepening impoverishment of the common people leading to cut in the existing capacity utilization in industries and services and fanning increasing losses in jobs and livelihood found no attention in the budget exercise at all. The Govt sought to assuage the people by announcing its target of making India a 5 trillion dollar economy in 2022 just like the prime Minister in its previous incarnation announced to double the income of the farmers by 2021, but the situation has gone just in the opposite direction provoking more crisis and increasing spate of farmers’ suicides.

The Budget sought to pretend taxing the rich more by enhancing surcharge on individual income from above 2.5 crore. But that has been more than neutralized and compensated by a sharp reduction in corporate tax to the tune of 10% for almost the entire corporate community by bringing 99.3% corporate entities to the minimum level of corporate tax of 25%(from 35%). This has been done despite the fact that it is this same private corporate community who are responsible for default in bank loans and also for organised pilferage from national exchequer by way of not paying their due taxes like income tax, corporate tax and other taxes, the amount of total default being Rs 7,35,000 crore at the time of previous budget.  The budget has not mentioned a single line as to how such legitimate dues in national exchequer can be recovered, rather mentioned a slew of arrangement  on simplifying tax procedure including assessment for “ease of living” for the tax payers, more so for the defaulters under their patronage. Side by side burden on people has been increased by increase in tax in petrol/diesel and other indirect taxes.

The budget pretends to give certain concessions in tax and interests in housing loan up to Rs 45 lakhs in the name of ensuring so called “affordable housing”. But this will be more beneficial to the large scale real estate businesses, which are in crisis than to the poor who really need affordable housing.   

The Budget announced more liberal entry of foreign capital/companies in all the crucial sectors of the national economy including in financial sector. While chanting the slogan of “Make in India” the Govt has already embarked on the path of destruction of indigenous manufacturing capabilities by way of liberalization of import in defence production, railway rolling stocks and other crucial areas besides resorting to mass scale outsourcing of production to private agencies including foreign companies starving the concerned PSUs, Ordnance Factories, Railway production units etc. the Budget will further speed up that destructive process.

The Budget along with the Economic Survey has given a clear indication of phasing out the benefits for the Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises sector, stated to be for unshackling them to grow bigger; in reality, this is meant for patronizing the big business/corporate sectors at their cost, affecting the second biggest source of employment as well as self-employment generation in the organised sector. In its earlier avatar, the Modi government has ruined large number of micro and small enterprises through its disastrous demonetization and GST implementation.

The Budget has shown its clear bias for the finance capital mainly engaged in speculations by way of announcement of a slew of concessions in respect of tax on capital gains, dividend payments etc to Non Banking Financial Institutions (NBFCs) while announcing its decision to privatise all the NBFCs under public sector who are actually having business in the real, employment generating economy.

The Budget targeted for earning Rs 1.05 lakh crore from strategic sale and disinvestment of PSUs –another dubious method of handing over national productive assets on a platter to private business. Along with, the budget has proposed the minimum public holding of shares in companies would be made 35% (from present 25%) making the disinvestment of PSU shares to the tune of minimum 35% a fate accompli. 

Budget did not bother to make any provision for increasing the remuneration of more than one crore scheme workers, forgetting all the zumlas they have pronounced before the election, neither it has done anything to make the minimum pension at the survival level of Rs 6000/-(linked with price-index changes) as demanded by the entire trade union movement.  In fact almost all social and welfare expenditures including even allocations under MNREGA marked a reduction in the current budget in real terms.

In totality both the Economic Survey and Budget have found only single means to promote growth of the economy as well as employment, i.e., by pushing through labour law reforms to induce total flexibility in implementation of labour laws even after it has been totally diluted through four Labour Codes meticulously designed for removing all the rights/protection provisions for the workers  and also pushing out the majority of the workforce out of the regulatory purview and coverage of most of the  labour laws. The Govt’s obcession for going up to the ladder of “Ease of Doing Business Index” led them to completely ignore the issue of “ease of human survival” of the working people who are actually creating the GDP for the entire nation.

In fine the first Budget of the BJP Govt in its second incarnation with a bigger mandate is totally anti-people, anti-worker meant only for serving their real masters in big business/corporate lobby. It is an indicator of many more anti-people and anti-worker measures being on the anvil.  It is utterly destructive for the national economy and a betrayal to mass of the working people. CITU calls upon the working people to unite and protest against this anti-people budget.

(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary 

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