Union Budget 2020-21 presented today by the BJP Govt is full of sounds but little substance. In the background of continuing slowdown in the economy, increasing miseries, widening impoverishment of the people at large, alarming rise of unemployment, the union Budget did do nothing to address any of these issues except pronouncing ornamental sound-bites in the name of “prime minister Modi”.

The claim made in the budget speech about lifting 271 million people above the poverty line is the crudest example of such sound-bites with a deceptive intent. Numerous studies revealed the intensification of the poverty situation in the country including the NSSO report on more than 8 per cent fall in rural consumption expenditure and that testifies the falsity of such claim.

Similarly, lot of noise is made in the budget speech about the success of “Beti bachao and Beti parao” and other women welfare related programmes. But in reality, women work participation rate has been drastically coming down during last few years consistently; the same period also witnessed increasing incidents of violence and atrocities against women, many times with patronage of those in power; worst discrimination against working women is continuing subjecting them to 31 per cent less wages compared to their male counterpart for the same work done. And finally budget allocation on ‘beti-bachao, beti parao’ has been further reduced by over Rs 20 crore. The exercise of deception continues.

There are numerous other examples of such false claim on peoples’ welfare and employment generation in the entire budget speech which do not match with budgetary figures. The Budget speech talked loudly about augmenting investment in infrastructure countrywide, but most of the same appear  to be dependent on the response of private sectors, which is not expected to be forthcoming in present scenario of economic slowdown.  For example, 1,37,000 acre potential oil/gas field were allotted for exploration by private sector entities during last five years; nothing has been produced as yet.

And a mere Rs 3.43 lakh crore increase in nominal term in total estimated expenditure in the current budget (2020-21) compared to revised estimate of expenditure in the previous budget (2019-2020) also explodes the falsity of such loud announcement on infrastructure and employment generating investment in the budget speech. On account of agriculture & allied services and rural development (which accounts for more than 50% of the country’s population) budgetary allocation has been increased by mere Rs 19000 crore compared to last budget which is actually a reduction or no increase in real terms , even inflation is taken into account.

Budget speech made noise about ensuring ‘ease of living’ for individual citizens. But it moved in just opposite direction. Food subsidy channelized through Food Corporation of India (FCI) for public distribution system has been cut by Rs 76000 crore, even when India’s ranking has drastically slid down in the Global Hunger Index. Even MNREGA, Ayushman Bnarat, PMJAY and PM-KISAN suffered drastic cut in allocation.  It spelt nothing about improving the conditions of the working people who actually create wealth for the nation by responding to their basic demands viz., increase in minimum wage, universalizing social welfare benefit, equal pay for equal work etc; scheme workers in anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA  etc are still being subjected to humiliating exploitation having been denied even the statutory minimum wage and social security benefits, nothing has been provided for this one crore strong workforce giving yeoman service to the entire society.                                                                                                                                             

Budget proposed to reduce personal income tax rates for the benefit of the workers.  But this benefit would get more than neutralized by the discontinuance of the deduction/rebate they were entitled to arrive at taxable income as per the new scheme. On the other hand the Govt has become more than liberal in giving concessions to big business and corporate houses by way of sharp reduction in corporate tax, dividend-distribution tax and in the name of simplification of tax regime. While doing so, the Budget speech repeated numerous times the statement of the prime minister that those big business/corporate are the “wealth creator” of the nation. In fact they are looting the resources created by the producing people in industries, services and agriculture. As per Receipt Budget presented along with the Budget (2020-21) total accumulated unpaid direct tax from the same corporate community during last five years has reached Rs 7.63 lakh crore out of which Rs 1.30 lakh crore is not under any dispute.  The Govt talks loud about “ease of living” but in action they are obsessed with ensuring “ease of doing business” of handful of big business houses, both foreign and domestic.

Budget reiterated its programme of pushing through disinvestment and strategic sale of PSUs which is going to further damage the national economy in a big way. It has decided to disinvest shares of LIC also despite its high performance and consistently huge contribution to the national kitty in funding the development expenditures. It is going ahead with merger of public sector banks thereby provoking reduction of bank-branches having direct negative impact of the employment and also on banking services to people of remote areas. Budget mentioned about infusing additional capital in public sector banks; but open-ended provision for loan-defaulting corporates for exit through Insolvency Bankruptcy Procedure (IBC) has already compelling the public sector banks to forego more than 60 to 70 per cent of their loan portfolios resulting bigger drainage of resources from the banks than the infusion of capital. Whom actually this Modi Govt does target to benefit finally remains a big question?

The Modi Govt claims to have special concern of benefiting the Medium, Small Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) through the budget and it has announced a number of concessions for the business houses in the name of benefitting the MSMEs. These MSMEs are the worst hit by the economic slowdown besides being virtually crushed by demonitisation and GST and those concessions will benefit them little. Rather the MSMEs need capital at concessional rates and direct support in marketing and timely payment from the big industries for their supplies, where they are suffering most.  Budget provided nothing in this regard.

In midst of continuing economic slowdown, budget should have been directly taken measure by augmenting public investment  in infrastructure and agriculture, substantial expansion of social welfare services  and direct intervention in increasing the minimum wages and social security to augment consumption demand of the mass of the populace. There is no other way to revamp the situation. In fact all the Central Trade Unions presented this view in the pre-budget consultation. But the Govt, true to their commitment to big-business/corporate/landlord clique, turned a deaf ear to the suggestions of the real wealth creators of the national economy, the working class.

This BJP government led by Modi has totally ignored the demands of the workers and toiling people, raised only a few days’ back, on 8th January 2020 country wide general strike in which 25 crore toiling people were involved. CITU calls upon all sections of workers and toiling people to continue and intensify their united struggles till their demands are achieved.

Tapan Sen
General Secretary

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