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Monday, February 3, 2020

Union Budget 2020-21 -full of sounds but little substance-CITU

Union Budget 2020-21 presented 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.

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