People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 04, 2007
Budget Fails To Address Concerns Of Aam Admi: CITU
The CITU secretariat has issued the following statement on February 28, 2007
THE budget presented by the finance minister despite its attempt to claim that the UPA has largely fulfilled its commitments in the NCMP, has failed to address the concerns of the aam admi. Though the unacceptably high levels of inflation, affecting the people at large, had tempered the hype over the GDP growth rate figures, the government has chosen to talk vaguely of moderating it, rather than tackling the phenomenon on a war footing.
The budget has also made a mockery of the pre-budget consultation process as it has not at all addressed the basic issues raised by the trade unions, besides those of the Left parties.
The Economic Survey has itself incorporated the fault lines of the present growth paradigm – India still at 126th place in terms of Human Development Indices; the very slow growth on the social sector front and the abject failure to generate employment. There is no tangible measure in evidence in the budget on all these aspects.
The country has been witnessing an acute agrarian distress, the magnitude of which is reflected in the unending suicides by farmers. The budget contains some promises of resource allocations which are too little and too late.
The budget provides no relief to the salaried class and wage earners. Ban on recruitment continues. The finance minister sanctioned a little more than 1 lakh anganwadi centres under the Integrated Child Development Services with no beneficial provisions for the anganwadi workers and helpers.
The government, which has been taking the plea of resource crunch whenever demands are raised for hike in welfare measures, has shown its disinclination to mobilise more resources by taxing the rich and the affluent. The suggestions relating to long-term capital gains tax, wealth tax, inheritance tax, securities transaction tax etc., have been ignored. Rather, the budget exercise has been utilised to shower more concessions to these very sections. Instead a further across the board cess is imposed towards secondary and higher education, hurting common people.
Despite the improvement on the savings front, which offers ample scope for the government to tap the same for large public investment, the budget traverses the same path of Private Public Partnership route on the infrastructure front, with handsome allocations towards viability gap funding – read subsidy.
Because of the pressure from the trade unions and the steel industry an export duty has been imposed on the export of iron ore; but the reductions affected in import duties will harm domestic industries; the loosening of the definition of ‘end user’ will result in indiscriminate handing over of coal blocks to private hands; the veiled expressions of intent to carry forward the financial sector reforms, in various ways, is bound to prove disastrous.
In totality, the budget reflects the insensitivity of the UPA government towards the livelihood problems of the people. No lesson seems to have been learnt from the expressions of popular discontent, which has amply been evident. The budget leaves much to be desired.