Interim Budget 2019 – Fraudulent Exercise Before Elections

The Interim Budget 2019, the last before the term of this BJP government ends, is a fraudulent attempt to cheat the people in a desperate bid to attract votes when defeat in the ensuing Parliament elections is staring at its face.

The interim budget vainly tries to give the misleading impression of providing so called  ‘sops’ to different sections of people. In fact, it does not waver a bit from the pro-corporate neoliberal agenda which has caused so much distress to the workers, peasants and the poor who have come out in their lakhs protesting these policies in the last few months compelling the government to talk about their issues. The acting finance minister laments that he could not reach the fiscal deficit target because of the money promised to the peasants. During the entire period of its five year tenure, the BJP government led by Modi feigned sleep, forgot the workers and peasants who create wealth for the country and was busy aggressively implementing the so called ‘reforms’ to serve their corporate master, domestic and foreign and fill their kitty looting the people and national resources.

The budget has nothing to improve the sagging economy through public investment, employment generation and improving the purchasing power of the people. Rather the arrogant announcement of continuing with the disinvestment and privatisation of PSUs and other “reforms” in the pipeline reflects the real intention to pave the way for destruction of self reliance and national economy as a whole.

It does not address the alarming levels of unemployment, which have reached forty five year high and which the BJP government has sought to suppress by not releasing the data and manufacturing data in its favour.  There is no concrete proposal except the rhetoric of ‘job seekers becoming job providers’, which those in government have been repeating ad nauseum without any visible action at the ground. The lack of any concrete plan becomes clear with the acting finance minister declaring the ‘employment generation is not confined merely to government services or factories’. Probably he wants to reiterate the advice of his colleagues in BJP to the youth to sell pakodas, set up pan shops or rear cows.

The interim budget has nothing to improve the wages of workers and incomes of peasants. It ignores the demand for loan waiver to the peasants. It does not ensure appropriate price for the farmers’ produce, nor the ensured procurement mechanism for all the crops.  It does not even mention minimum wage of Rs 18000 for workers. The allocation for MGNREGA has in fact been reduced compared to last year, even when the number of days of work has drastically come down and workers continue to be unpaid for several months. The unpaid wages for the work done under MNREGA crossed Rs 5150 crore in 2017-18 itself as per official data.  

The pension of Rs 3000 for unorganized workers is another exercise in deceit without there being any scheme. The allocation of a meagre Rs 500 crores itself is an indication of the lack of seriousness and honesty in covering the more than 40 crore unorganized workers in the country. And they will receive this pension only by contributing continuously up to the age of 60, which most of them cannot do. The real fraudulent intention behind announcement of this programme becomes clear when the cow-protection receives a bigger allocation of Rs 750 crore.

Increase in the exemption limit of earnings for income-tax payment had been long overdue and nothing to boast about.

Similarly the promise of Rs 6000 per year to the peasants having less than 2 hectares of land is a cruel joke on the peasants. Probably the minister wants the peasants who provide food for the country to satisfy their hungry stomachs with peanuts that the princely amount of Rs 15 a day can buy. There is no intention to address the agrarian crisis in a meaningful way.

As one of their colleagues in the union cabinet revealed recently, this time too, the BJP, leading the government obviously feels they have nothing to lose as they are not going to come to power anyway. People cannot be perpetually cheated by such dubious exercises.

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