1st February 2018
THE UNION BUDGET 2018-19: ANTI-PEOPLE ANTI-WORKER AND DECEPTIVE
The Union Budget 2018-19, presented by the Finance Minister of the Narendra Modi Govt today on a preliminary scrutiny, turns out to be deceptive one, meticulously articulated to misguide and confuse the people. The Budget is anti-workers, anti-people and also militates against the national interest. CITU condemns such an anti-people exercise.
The Budget remained liberal about extending concession to business houses. On the plea of supporting Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) the Budget extended the reduced corporate tax rate of 25% to companies having Rs 250 crore annual turnover. Is the turnover the right measure of identifying an MSME or the ‘capital deployed’ should categorise the MSME more honestly ? Will it really benefit the genuine MSMEs or allow the big players to corner the benefit ? However through such deceptive manner the burden on corporate houses has been reduced further by Rs 7000 crore while giving no relief to suffering millions reeling under post GST indirect tax burden. This along with other pro-corporate policy drives continued to remain the pattern of budget exercise of the Modi Govt in successive years of its governance pushing the entire country in the midst of extreme and obscene income inequality of one percent people cornering 73% of the national wealth. And yet the Govt will continue to call itself pro-poor.
Budget speech made no mistake in mentioning its resolve to extend the atrocious “fixed term employment” system to all the sectors consistent with its brazenly anti-worker pro-corporate drive for labour-law changes designed to impose slavery on the workers. While speaking lavishly about improving health, education and social welfare services toward universalisation, it remained totally negative in considering the long standing demands of about a crore workers working in its flagship scheme of NHM, Mid-day-Meal(MDM) and ICDS (Anganwadi) and other related central govt schemes of extending them at least the right to statutory minimum wages and attendant social security benefits. In fact the allocation under National Health Mission (NHM) has been reduced and on ICDS and MDM there are marginal increase that too for other expenditures. Such an attitude is utterly condemnable.
On employment generation also, the claim made in the budget speech is also not true. In fact, even as per official estimate, the net employment generation has turned negative in absolute term if job-losses owing to closure of factories/establishments during the period is taken into account. The claim of creation of 70 lakh jobs in the formal sector said to be based on the increase in number of EPFO data as touted by a so called “independent study” upheld by the Finance Minister is another hoax to confuse and misguide the people and a cruel joke on the several lakhs of unemployed. Rather every step of this Modi Govt is degenerating the employment situation in the country; and all concessions being given to business houses by the Govt including bearing the burden of employers contribution in EPF, allowing liberal income tax rebate to employers on account of wages paid to the newly employed workers etc is actually an arrangement of organized pilferage from the national exchequer by the employers’ class in complicity with the custodians of the said exchequer, without creating any employment whatsoever. Added to this has been the recent move of abolishing all posts in central govt establishment deliberately kept vacant for last five years, killing lakhs of employment positions.
The Budget speech has gone extremely lavish in pronouncing commitments for development of agriculture and rural development along with launching so many schemes, whereas budgetary allocation for 2018-19 both on account of Agriculture and Allied Services and Rural Development marked a marginal increase of Rs 9793 crore in nominal term meaning actually a decline both in real terms and also as a percentage of GDP and total budgetary allocations. The Budget gave a shockingly surprising news that the Govt has already implemented the Minimum Support Price (MSP) at the rate of one and half times of production cost for majority of the Rabi Crops and now the Govt is committed to extend the same to Kharif crops in the current year also which is totally untrue. Even Govt’s deposition before the Apex Court in this matter is reportedly negative.
Similarly, the budgetary statement about putting in place under its flagship programme of National Health protection Scheme to provide for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization at the rate of Rs 5 lakh per family per year to 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, if weighed in terms of actual budgetary allocations, turns out be another hoax. The budgetary allocation on this account is merely Rs 1600 core which can cover hardly 10 lakh families (and not 10 crore). And such discrepancy exposes the dubious intent. Overall, behind the shrill fraudulent noise of all round development, the budget continued to remain a contractionary budget and focus of almost all govt expenditures are designed to benefit only the rich and propertied business class and the common people and the workers in particular are being subjected to deeper exploitation and repression.
Budget speech lavishly spoke about developing self reliance in defence production and what is being actually done is setting the process of destruction of the existing indigenous manufacturing capabilities in the Ordnance factories, the defence PSUs and country’s shipyards by way of mass scale outsourcing in favour of private sector, both foreign and domestic turning around half of the Ordnance Factories redundant and starving the Defence PSUs and Shipyards of work-orders. On the same way, under the camouflage of expanding Railway network, the project of total privatization of Railways is being pursued in full swing. Are these in any manner serving national interests or sabotaging the same in favour of foreign players ?
The Govt has been moving fast in selling out the national assets through wholesale privatization. In the current year the target for disinvestment /privatization is kept at Rs 80000 crore to keep on the pace of its ‘destroy India’ programme under the camouflage of “Make in India”.
CITU denounced the budget 2018-19 of the Modi Govt and calls upon the working class to unitedly protest and fight against the fraud and exploitation they are being subjected to simultaneously.
(Tapan Sen )